Mayor Ben Houchen has visited a charity which supports older people to learn about its good work across Tees Valley.
Age UK Teesside campaigns and helps over-50s with their health and wellbeing, finances and independence in their communities, as well as organising social events and befriending sessions to help combat loneliness.
To launch the charity’s “March Against Loneliness” campaign, Mayor Houchen joined a “Lunch ‘n’ Social” event at its North Ormesby Community Hub in Middlesbrough. There, he spoke to Age UK Teesside staff, volunteers and people from the region that the charity works with.
These included proud Tees Valley resident Ray Nellist, who regaled Mayor Houchen with his stories of working in the blast furnace of the old British Steel Corporation throughout the 1960s and 70s.
Age UK Teesside runs a series of sessions at a range of Middlesbrough and Stockton locations, including craft sessions, carpet bowls, computer tutorials and even Zumba classes. The charity is also looking for volunteers to take part in the ongoing Big Knit Teesside, as well as new Trustees.
Mayor Houchen said: “We talk a lot about job creation and the future of the Tees Valley, but we can’t lose sight of those fantastic people who have lived and worked here all of their lives and helped make our area the incredible place it is today.
“Nobody should feel alone or be left with no one to turn to. Loneliness is a reality for too many people in our society today, where people across our area can go for days, weeks or even a month without seeing a friend or family member.
“By bringing together health services, businesses, local authorities, charities and community groups, it’s important we raise awareness of loneliness and help people build connections to lead happier and healthier lives.
“These truly remarkable volunteers at Age UK Teesside and dedicated members of staff are doing brilliant work to improve the lives of those who have given so much to the area. I would encourage anyone with some time on their hands to sign up and give them a hand. Whether it’s having a chat, a cuppa and befriending an older person to big fundraising events, it really can change lives.”
The Mayor also welcomed a recent Government announcement that all GPs in England will be able to refer patients experiencing loneliness to community activities and voluntary services by 2023.
Anne Sykes, Chief Executive of Age UK Teesside, said: “It was a pleasure to host the Mayor and show him all the good we are doing for one of the most vulnerable communities in our area. Older people are often overlooked but we’re working hard to give them all the friendship, support and advice they could want. This visit will hopefully further raise the profile of our organisation, which does some great work across Teesside.”
If you can spare just an hour a week, or want to find out more about the March on Loneliness, please call Janet Murphy on 01642 805500 or email [email protected]. To find out more about Age UK Teesside, visit www.ageuk.org.uk/teesside