Striving to reduce isolation and loneliness amongst older people

Pensioner poverty has been growing over the last decade and now over 2 million older people live in poverty in the UK – an increase of 200,000 in the last year alone. Our grant giving service helps older people who are living in poverty to afford basic household essentials and ensure they maintain a minimum standard of living.

Many of the older people we support are lonely or isolated and can’t afford just a few hundred pounds for essentials like food, heating, disability aids, home repairs and even funeral costs for loved ones. Our grants of up to £400, address the key, urgent needs of older people and we are one of the few organisations continually adapting our grants to meet the ever-changing challenges that older people face.

A stock image of an older man smiling Helping older people like James have more of their best days

Thanks to our wonderful supporters we recently helped James*, a 67-year-old gentleman who was partly paralysed so couldn’t carry his clothes to the launderette. He told us:

“…carers come and help me, but their time is very short – only half an hour – so they could clean my kitchen and dress me, but not take my clothes for washing. So my clothes were piling, piling, piling up. I like to keep myself clean, so it was frustrating and it made me very uneasy. I wasn’t happy. I felt helpless.”

We are passionate about reducing social isolation and have begun giving away grants to combat loneliness. Our grants provide technology such a mobile phones and laptops, or help people afford mobility aids to keep them connected and not feel trapped at home.

Some of our grants help combat isolation in ways that are not always obvious. Having to wear dirty clothes or sleep in soiled bedding can affect people’s confidence and their desire to socialise.

Some of the older people we support live in unfurnished flats, with no table and chairs, no sofa and in some cases not even a carpet. This can result in them feeling ashamed of where they live and not wanting to invite a friend or neighbour into their home, which contributes to feelings of loneliness and isolation.

James recalls one of his worse days:

“One day I had a hospital appointment and I needed to wear clean clothes – but they were all dirty. That, I think, was the day that I really felt really bad. I thought, ‘give me some strength’. I felt helpless. I had to go to the hospital in clothes that were dirty.”

“I had previous bad experiences with some other organisations that I approached and said they couldn’t help, and that discouraged me. ”

With nowhere else to turn, our grant funded a washing machine in James’ own flat, which has helped to improve his quality of life and promote his self-care:

“It’s made a huge huge difference! When I received the washing machine, I was so relieved, now I don’t have to wait for anyone to come and help me. I was very happy when it was delivered. I think that was one of my best days, after that life was a lot more manageable”

We receive requests every day from people who need our help and thanks to the generosity of our donors, we can continue to offer these grants for older people who need help.

Find out more about applying for a grant, or see how you can support more older people like James.

*name changed for confidentiality