22nd Sep 2021

Photo: Staff at Age UK Gateshead. 

During the height of the Coronavirus pandemic, when many older people were experiencing isolation, a Gateshead based charity undertook over 1,300 welfare calls a week to those most in need. 

Age UK Gateshead received a grant from the NET Coronavirus Fund, distributed by the Community Foundation Tyne & Wear and Northumberland. This grant allowed them to support 264 clients over a period of three months by making frequent welfare calls. 

Elaine Holdsworth, Senior Philanthropy Advisor at the Community Foundation said: 

“I was delighted to hear how this grant had made such a significant impact for so many people across Gateshead and Newcastle. At a time when older people have been disproportionality affected by the Coronavirus pandemic, Age UK Gateshead have ensured that many of them have a point of contact for reassurance and guidance throughout”. 

The welfare calls not only benefited older people but also many unpaid carers who were unable to access respite care during the pandemic. The calls also gave the opportunity to spot any issues or needs that service users may have such as needing shopping or prescriptions collected. 

Julie Latimer, Head of Income Generation & Business Development at Age UK Gateshead, explained how they supported people during the pandemic: 

“As Age UK Gateshead mainly provide face to face services, many aimed at the relief of social isolation and loneliness, the pandemic was a disaster for older people who no longer had that contact and support network and were much more likely to be shielding an in need of practical help such as shopping or prescription collection. 

“With an absolute legion of corporate volunteers from companies such as Sky, LNER, and Sage, funding from Community Foundation’s Coronavirus Response and Recovery Fund helped us to be able to match older people needing often daily welfare calls with our fabulous volunteers and kept the older people of Gateshead and Newcastle connect and safe during the most trying time in our lifetimes”. 

The service users have been appreciative of the support with one saying ‘you are all brilliant, the only real help I’ve had. I cannot praise you enough’ and another adding, ‘you are all wonderful, don’t know what I would have done without you’. 

The grant followed an earlier £60,000 grant (over two years) from the Kellett Fund through the Community Foundation’s Pooled grants programme. This went towards the organisations core costs, recognising the role they play in the region and to aid the continuation of their vital service through the pandemic. 

For more information about funding opportunities at the Community Foundation visit www.communityfoundation.org.uk/apply 

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