Age Concern Isle of Man is an independent local charity, established in 1992, which supports older people to stay independent, healthy and socially connected. Its confidential information service supports individual older people make informed choices and get any assistance they may need. Digital inclusion sessions are delivered every weekday, helping hundreds of older people each year to get online and gain the skills and confidence to benefit from technology in an increasingly digital world. Health and wellbeing activities in local communities are designed with input from older people as key partners, enabling people to keep well, make friends, and have fun. As part of itcs ore values, Age Concern welcomes older people as volunteers, providing a safe, accessible and supportive environment. Covid 19 required an immediate shut down of their face-to-face services forcing them to reconfigure how they worked: they maintained their Information Service remotely by telephone and email, switched to remote telephone and computer support for older people needing help with technology, and made regular “keeping in touch” phone calls with older people who were isolated or vulnerable. They also prepared and circulated details of local suppliers who would deliver food or essential items direct to individual older people’s homes, and were rapidly able to match up practical help, friendly contact and reassurance for their service users and for the hundreds of people who contacted for help.
The charity’s whole focus during Covid has been on getting people the help they need to stay safe and well, and addressing loneliness, isolation and anxiety. The pandemic radically reduced their fundraising, at the same time as requiring a rapid increase in expenditure for PPE, training, and investment in safety measures. The generous support from the Scheinberg Relief Fund is enabling Age Concern Isle of Man to develop their direct support for older people in need, extend the health and wellbeing programme, and help more older people access online services and keep in contact with family and friends through digital technology. In words of the organisation “Thanks to the Scheinberg Relief Fund the charity will be able to sustain and grow our service into the future. We are extremely grateful for the amazing way the SRF has acted so promptly and generously to support communities in this unprecedented crisis”