For some, the later years of life bring a new sense of frivolity and adventure, but for others it can be a very isolating and depressing time. According to Age UK, 1 in 10 older people say they feel lonely, and in Suffolk a staggering 15,000 older people will go an entire month without speaking to family, a friend or even a neighbour.
We take living in a safe and warm home for granted. Tragically, on average 353 vulnerable people die each year from living in cold or poor conditions and sadly that figure is just in Suffolk alone. The 'Surviving Winter' Campaign was set up to give a winter fuel grant to those who need it most and so far it has benefited over 850 homes, but there are still many older people who live with a daily battle between heating or eating.
There are a wide range of services available across the county offering support to older people; from making new friends, having a hot meal or learning new skills at a day centre to having practical support in the home with cleaning or shopping, or even being able to go to the hairdressers. Age UK Suffolk believes it is important to give an older person independence and a voice to be heard.
We spoke to George Chilvers who works for Age UK Suffolk and asked him a few questions about this important charity.
Hi George, can you tell me what the main aims of Age UK Suffolk are?
The main aim of Age UK Suffolk is to provide a choice of services across the county to improve people's quality of life; enabling their independent living at home and by helping to maintain health through combating loneliness, social exclusion, poverty and depression in later life.
How will donations through iStreet help Age UK Suffolk?
£5 could cover the cost of printing and posting a year's worth of our Choices magazine to an isolated older person to keep them informed about local services that could benefit them.
£50 could help fund a year's telephone befriending, providing friendship and support for an older person who feels lonely or isolated.
£85 could pay for a Forget-Me-Not Dementia club afternoon, enabling 20 older people with memory problems and their family or carers to have a relaxing and enjoyable afternoon out of the house together.
How important are donations?
Donations are vital for Age UK Suffolk, with every penny raised in Suffolk staying in Suffolk. Each year we need to raise more than £4 million to provide out services to Suffolk's older population. We have to raise more than 50% of this income through fundraising, donations, legacies and trusts.
What does the future hold for Age UK Suffolk?
This year in partnership with the East Anglian Daily Times we launched our 'Shine a light on loneliness' campaign where we are focusing on tackling the issue of isolation and depression within older people.
We would hate to imagine our loved ones being cold and alone in their later years, but the truth is nobody knows what the future has in store. A huge comfort is knowing that there is a charity who can offer support and enable independence. Without vital donations, Age UK Suffolk simply wouldn't be able to continue their important work. It's so easy to give a free donation to Age UK Suffolk by simply shopping online though iStreet.