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The voice of Scotland’s vibrant voluntary sector

Published by Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations

TFN is published by the Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations, Mansfield Traquair Centre, 15 Mansfield Place, Edinburgh, EH3 6BB. The Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations (SCVO) is a Scottish Charitable Incorporated Organisation. Registration number SC003558.

Older people urgently need support to get through another difficult winter 

This news post is 7 months old
 

LifeCare encourages people to share a little warmth through the charity’s Winter Warmer appeal

A lifeline charity has launched its winter appeal as it deals with rising costs and huge demand for its services.

As the winter approaches older people are faced with difficult choices; colder weather and long dark nights make it harder to keep well and warm at home, and it can be trickier to safely get out and about, worsening issues of isolation. 

As we face another winter of continued high prices, many older people are struggling to make ends meet and are facing real choices around putting the heating on versus food shopping.

Edinburgh charity, LifeCare has over 80 years’ experience offering the vital care and support people need all year round, but with the organisation’s own costs rising they do not currently have the capacity to meet the increasing demands from a growing population of older people. 

The charity is calling on people and businesses to get involved and help raise funds to support LifeCare and those struggling this winter.

Older people have been disproportionately affected through the recent Covid, cost of living and health crises and charities such as LifeCare have never been needed more.

LifeCare experienced a 250% increase in enquiries post-pandemic and recently a 67% increase in enquiries from people living on low incomes. It aims to keep service costs low, or free for those that most need it, so that they are accessible to everyone.

Recent research from Age Scotland shows that the numbers of older people living in poverty increased this year with approximately one in six older people living in relative poverty and 41% feeling financially squeezed (up from 26% in 2021). 

More than 70% of people surveyed were already cutting back on energy and heating costs, 50% said their standard of living had dropped and 38% were socialising less. 

The long-term health and wellbeing impacts are still unknown, but with over 85% of LifeCare’s clients living alone, older people in Edinburgh are becoming increasingly isolated and in desperate need of considered and caring support. 

Originally established in 1941 as the Edinburgh and Leith Old People's Welfare Council, LifeCare’s professional and high-quality services enable older people to thrive in their own homes and be active in their communities all year round. 

Through its relationship-based approach the charity supports the growing numbers of people living with dementia, in isolation, with reduced mobilities, experiencing mental health, and those living on low-incomes.

Activities are delivered within the home, out and about within the community and from three registered day clubs across the city. Collectively the charity supports over 1,000 older people a year. 

Through the Winter Warmer campaign LifeCare aims to continue to deliver affordable care for those that need it most. 

This includes offering hot meals on wheels, unpaid carers support, dementia-friendly hairdressing and community engagement activities for those that need it. 

And with support, the charity will continue to run CafeLife, the charity’s community café on Cheyne Street, as a welcoming Eat & Meet warm space offering free hot food, companionship and activities across weekends. 

The charity will also launch a series of workshops and groups such as ‘cooking on a budget’ and ‘mend and repair’ classes to help maximise limited incomes.

LifeCare is calling on everyone, from individuals to local businesses, to join their appeal, share a little warmth and give a donation to help deliver support to those that need it most this winter.

Sarah van Putten, chief executive of LifeCare, said: “We are extremely worried about local older people this winter, with continued high prices for food and fuel, it will be devastating for many. On top of the heat or eat dilemma they are also at risk of serious social isolation. It’s times like these which highlight the critical need for services such as ours.

“LifeCare has a long history of supporting and empowering older people to live life to the full, but as a charity we rely on donations to enable us to deliver our vital support and care. Thanks to our services, we ensure that each older person receives the support they need. 

“We make sure they are warm in their homes, they eat well, have company to look forward to and are able to get out and about to activities safely. Our regular, reliable and non-rushed support is delivered by the same friendly faces, so friendships are formed and care is consistent. And we know it works; in our recent survey over 91% of day club clients felt more social connected and 85% felt their health and wellbeing had improved.

“It’s frustrating because we know we can deliver the care that people want and need, but we are facing increased costs too. We are asking local people and businesses to consider giving a one-off or regular gift through our Winter Warmer appeal.  Donations can be made on our website or alternatively people can come along to our community café to pledge their support. Even choosing to have your coffee or lunch from our café will help us to deliver the care local older people need to ensure they continue to thrive at home.”

Jeremy Balfour. MSP for Lothian, is supporting the charity’s campaign.

He said: “I am delighted to be supporting LifeCare’s Winter Warmer campaign. Winter can be a difficult time of year for people of all ages, however it is an especially tough period for older people and the work that LifeCare does to support them over the winter months is life changing. I would commend anyone who is able to support their work in any way that they are able.”

For more information about LifeCare’s services visit https://www.lifecare-edinburgh.org.uk/ or call 0131 343 0940.