Thursday, 5 October 2017

The Link Visiting Scheme

'The most terrible poverty is loneliness, and the feeling of being unloved'
Mother Teresa

The Link Visiting Scheme is on a mission!

This small charity helping local people has big plans for our community:
We aim to reduce loneliness, to promote friendship and to improve the health and well-being of our Link friends. We want to celebrate and honour older people in our community.
Loneliness and social isolation has become a huge problem in our nation and on a local level.  It can affect people of all ages, but perhaps the most vulnerable are our ageing population. It’s a growing epidemic – one that’s increasingly recognised as having dire physical, mental and emotional consequences. Loneliness can affect anyone but for older people it’s often associated with family members moving away or working long hours and close friends passing away. As one senior put it, ‘Your world dies before you do’

I first met Jo from The Link Visiting Scheme when our sons were at pre-school together.  Since then, her passion to celebrate and befriend older people in our community has inspired me to sign up as a volunteer.  I was 'matched' by the team to an older person with a view to us meeting up regularly.  The commitment is often just an hour or two per fortnight and in my experience, is great fun.  I have loved getting to know my Link friend and look forward to our trips to garden centres and cafes.  The Link Visiting Scheme is also looking for volunteer drivers to help link friends get to activities. 

The impact of loneliness

Loneliness and social isolation are harmful to our health.  Research shows that lacking social connections is as damaging to our health as smoking 15 cigarettes a day.   Networks and friendships also help individuals to recover when they do fall ill.  Loneliness increases the risk of heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure and the onset of disability.

Lonely people have a higher risk of developing dementia and are more prone to depression. 


Celebrating Celia and Sue

The Link Visiting Scheme proved their matchmaking skills when they brought Celia and Sue together.  Both ladies have shared a little of their story and the impact the scheme and their friendship has had on their lives.


Sue's Story

'After watching how isolated my Mum (she lived in Germany) became after my Dad's passing, I decided to attempt to make a difference in the life of an elderly person.  Loneliness can be worse than an illness, the cause of insecurity, anger and depression and so easy to stop by just giving a little of your time.
The Link Visiting Scheme introduced me to Celia just over 2 years ago. Celia already had a few Link friends before I came on the scene and the both of us had to get used to one another. With time, the trust grew and we went shopping, visited several garden centres and had organised coffee morning with mutual friends. We shared fun times and tough times, like hospital stays and the loss of friends.
It is lovely to see the smile on Celia's face when I enter her flat and to know that to this one person I make a difference by listening to her stories of the past, sharing her worries and offering reassurance and comfort and most of all by having a good laugh'

Celia's Story

'Before I joined the Link Visiting Scheme I was lonely and unhappy.  My husband hadn't long died and I had no-one to talk to.  I look forward to seeing Sue. We have a good chat. She is just lovely. When I am feeling down and lousy, she cheers me up. She always makes me feel better. I love the parties too, they are terrific. I always have a lovely time.'

Jo and Marje from The Link Visiting Scheme will be hosting a table for the charity at the forthcoming fortycubed Charity Gala Dinner.  If you would like to make a donation to the charity as part of the fortycubed campaign please follow this link.  To find out more about the charity and about volunteering opportunities please visit the website.

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