Photo: Judy Hutton (left) volunteer Kristiana Baird (second from right) with visitors to the Ilkey and District Good Neighbours Moving On sessions Margaret Ford and Maureen Sharp

Ilkley charity calls out for ‘invaluable’ votes

An Ilkley charity designed to be ‘good neighbours’ to elderly and vulnerable people, is calling for public votes to support a new anti-loneliness initiative.

“Moving On’ is the latest scheme launched by Ilkley and District Good Neighbours and is designed to help the over 60s combat feelings of isolation resulting from significant life changes.

Launched as a pilot scheme in July, Moving On has helped more than 30 local residents find new activities, friends and a new lease of life after the death of a partner, moving into the area or coping with reduced mobility. However, 1,000 public votes are now needed to help the group through to the final stage of a funding application to help extend the initiative to September 2018.

Ilkley and District Good Neighbours chair, Judy Hutton, is heading the drive to apply for up to £5k of funding from the Aviva Community Fund, which focuses on supporting community projects.

Judy said: “In April we identified a real need for more of a ‘signposting’ service for people whose life circumstances have changed. The loss of a spouse, coping with a newly diagnosed condition or even just moving into the area can suddenly make life outside your own four walls feel overwhelming, when in fact, there’s a body of people and a host of activities to be experienced.

“Since July, Moving On has offered weekly meetings to older members of the Ilkley community and is already making a tangible difference to many lives. We have recently appointed a new co-ordinator, because the service takes time, resources and people to run it - which is where the outside funding comes in. We can keep Moving On operating from our reserves until March 2018 but thereafter it would simply have to close.”

She added: Securing the Aviva funding will mean Ilkley and District Good Neighbours can provide the venue, support, staff and facilities for Moving On until September 2018, giving some of Ilkley’s most vulnerable residents a further six months of making friends and connections and sharing information through skills and knowledge.”

Maureen Sharp recently moved to Ilkley from Doncaster to be nearer her son who lives locally. “I’d been on my own for two years since my husband died but my family wanted me to be closer to them,” she explained.

 

“There’s so much going on in Ilkley but it can be overwhelming knowing where to start and what to do – especially when you’re new to the area. It would be easy to just sit in my window and look out because there’s always so much to see. But what has really helped me and stopped the loneliness has been finding the Moving On group where I’ve been able to meet new people and speak to volunteers who know what’s happening in the town and who can help me find things of interest. It’s been a big part of me finding my feet and feeling welcome in a new town.”

 

Margaret Ford had lived near York until her husband died and she became unable to drive. She moved to Ilkley 12 months ago and heard about Moving On this summer. “There’s a real sense of community in the town – but I didn’t realise that until I found out more about what’s going on,” she said. “Moving On has helped me regain my independence which is very important to me. I could have felt lost and alone in this new life I’ve found myself in, but now I’ve got places to go and people to go there with.”

 

Moving On volunteers offer help to discover activities including art groups, bridge, country dancing, Canasta, badminton, scrabble clubs and travel groups. Meeting every Monday at the Ilkley Playhouse from 10am – 11.30am, visitors have the opportunity over tea, coffee and cakes to chat with people who have time to listen, advise and support.

Judy added: “After seeing how much fulfilment Moving On has given in the last four months by giving people the tools to regain their independence, bringing this invaluable service to an end through lack of funding would be unthinkable. We’d urge as many people as possible to log onto the website and please give us their support through one simple click. An online vote for Moving On is a show of support for improving the lives of so many older people who, without this service, simply won’t be living the life they deserve.”

Aviva’s voting lines are open from 9am on October 24 to November 21 and can be made by logging on to the Aviva Community Fund website.

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