Age Scotland have laid bare the #RunningCostsCrisis which has hit the sector.
Hundreds of older people’s groups across Scotland are facing big challenges in keeping their doors open as a result of Covid-19, new spiralling costs such as energy and food, and fewer members taking part.
A new report from Age Scotland called “Keeping the Doors Open” outlines the pressures these vital groups and organisations are facing, the extensive benefits they offer local communities, and how they can be supported to stay open.
Dozens of groups have closed for good or have been unable to resume their activities since the first national lockdown in March 2020.
The charity supports and enables a member network of more than 400 older people’s community groups and organisations.
Age Scotland’s deputy chief executive, Michelle Supple, said: “We are incredibly grateful to the groups who took the time to share their experiences and views in this survey, and for the vital work undertaken by all older people's groups across Scotland.
“Older people’s groups fulfil an incredibly important role in our communities. From lunch clubs and men’s sheds, to sporting clubs and older people’s forums, the range of activities these groups undertake is vast.
“They connect people, help to give older people a voice and campaign for change, tackle malnutrition and poverty, boost physical activity, improve the wellbeing and mental health of their members and so much more.
Age Scotland is now calling on the local authorities, funders, politicians, and other decision makers to commit to further help for community groups.
This includes a number of moves, including establishing a new national support fund, help with premises and running costs, unrestricted and flexible grants, and maintaining existing services such as day centres and lunch clubs to help people though the current economic crisis.
Sadly, over the past two years more than 30 older people’s community groups in membership of Age Scotland have closed, and many others are struggling.
One volunteer-led organisation in Renfrewshire told the charity: “The number of clubs like ours that have gone since the coronavirus is vast. It is essential that those left are supported to ensure they do not go the same way.”
While others are facing increasing pressure due to the cost-of-living crisis, or their ability to continue operating due to numbers, with one group in Falkirk warning it could close, while another in Argyle and Bute said it had been “decimated”.
Ms Supple added: “While the rich insights captured in our report are likely to be familiar to those involved in organising and attending older people’s groups, we hope this work underlines their importance and the scale of the challenges many are facing to the government and others who can help them keep their doors open.
“Older people’s community groups make Scotland a happier and healthier place to live, and it’s so important that they have continued access to the resources and support they need to flourish in the long term.”