New befriending service awarded more than £250,000 by Big Lottery Fund

A new volunteer project designed to help older people in Shetland remain independent, meet new people and discover different activities has been awarded £264,960 by the Big Lottery Fund (BIG).

Voluntary Action Shetland’s Befriending for 60+ is an expansion of the existing befriending service which has been running for more than 10 years and supports young people and young adults.

VAS executive officer Catherine Hughson said: “We are absolutely delighted to have received this grant which will allow us to continue to provide and expand our befriending service in Shetland.

“With BIG’s funding we can now expand the service to offer befriending support for the people aged 60+ which will help towards maintaining independence, reducing isolation and loneliness and help individuals remain in their own homes in a growing, elderly population. This is a very positive step forward and we are excited about the prospects this new section of the project holds.”

For ladies like Nancy (not her real name), 86, diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, the project will make a world of difference as her daughter Betty, 57, explained: “Mum lives with me now but I’m out at my work for a lot of the time, and I spend most of my spare time looking after mum, doing the boring things. Although I do try to build some trips out at the weekend, particularly in the winter time life for her is pretty dull. She gets to go to daycare some days and that’s really great, but it isn’t really fun.

“I’ve spoken to her and asked if she’d like to have somebody coming to take her out some days and maybe go to visit gardens, maybe Da Gairdins in Sand, or to the likes of the Tangwick Haa or the Bonhoga Gallery, and her eyes light up and she says ‘Oh yes, I think I’d like that’. Getting a befriending service going for older folk like my mum would give them something extra, something to look forward to. It would make a massive difference not just to them but to people like me who are caring for them as well.”

Announcing the awards, Big Lottery Fund Scotland chair Alison Magee said: “[I]n Shetland this new befriending service will make a huge difference to isolated older people across the islands. In these difficult times we want to ensure that Big Lottery Fund investment makes a clear difference to people’s lives both now and also in the future.”

In total six groups in Scotland share in £3,093,849 announced today by the Big Lottery Fund.


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