Scheme to help needy ‘success’

Care & Repair's Karen Kennedy speaking with AgeUK special advisor Mervyn Kohler

A project to help vulnerable elderly people access benefits and support has been hailed a success. More than 20 companies, charities and public  services teamed up for the 18-month Combining to Care scheme.

The project – run as a pilot across central and east Manchester – was so successful it is now being considered as a template to help older people across the country.

Volunteers worked together to target pensioners who were isolated or lonely and those who unaware of extra benefits they could get, such as fuel allowances during winter months.

Other initiatives included a telephone chat line for housebound pensioners and free computer classes.

A party for volunteers and the elderly was held at Longsight’s Sure Start centre to mark the project’s end.

Stanley Higgins, 75, has a volunteer from The Generation Project, one of the charities taking part, visiting once a week.

He said: “We just sit and have a chat. When you live on your own, it’s nice to have someone to come and see you.”

Other pensioners have been helped to fill out forms to apply for extra benefits or make sense of energy tariffs.

Charles Breslin, general manager for energy credit at British Gas, one of the companies who took part in the scheme, said: “This project has involved over 3,000 hours of volunteering by our staff and I am really pleased with how its gone.”

(Source: Manchester Evening News – 12/01/12)

(Photo courtesy of Manchester Evening News)

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