10th Feb 2021
A grant from the Kellett Fund at the Community Foundation Tyne & Wear and Northumberland has allowed The Linskill and North Tyneside Community Development Trust to continue its support for older people in North Tyneside, throughout the pandemic.
Linskill received continuation funding to expand its engAGE programme which encourages older people aged fifty or over to take part in activity, exercise and engage with others in their community.
Nils Stronach, Senior Programme Advisor at the Community Foundation, explained how the Kellett Fund was able to help:
“The Kellett Fund has been providing grants to support activities for the over 50s for many years. During the Covid-19 pandemic, they were some of the first groups we contacted as we knew they were well placed to stay in contact with older and more vulnerable people, many of whom live alone.
“The Kellett grantees, such as Linskill, have demonstrated great commitment to their beneficiaries by adapting their delivery, and ensuring that people remain engaged and connected to their local communities. Linskill’s work has also demonstrated how a collaborative approach can broaden impact across the region.”
With the original funding, Linskill brought in a new Community Fund engAGE worker to lead on the programme and help create self-sustainable social sessions, and these have flourished in recent years. In light of the pandemic, and given that many of their service users were classed as vulnerable, Linskill moved quickly to run these sessions online offering Zoom gatherings, closed Facebook groups and a digital ‘Grapevine’ community bulletin.
The success of engAGE at Linskill was used as a model to set up an older people’s programme at the Battle Hill Centre funded by the National Lottery when the charity took over the running of the venue, and participants from both areas have been able to come together through the virtual sessions which has proved an unexpected benefit.
Charly Mulvaney, Older Engagement Worker at Linskill, was grateful for the support being offered and what it’s enabled them to do:
“Thanks to Kellett funding the engAGE programme has continued to reach and support people through a horrible time and every session is full of smiles and giggles which cheers us all up!
“When the first lockdown of the pandemic arrived we were able to react quickly and use grant funds to buy a Zoom account thinking ‘just in case anyone fancies meeting online’ but not really expecting it to be as popular as it has become. We now have a full and varied programme of weekly and monthly activities.”
For the users, this support has been vital with one saying that “engAGE has saved me from my lonely life to someone who actually has a life”.
“It’s all so positive and ‘can do’ with each new roll of the lockdown dice being an opportunity rather than a setback”.