The simplest form of support that can be provided to a local community is information. Feeling lonely and isolated, individuals often don't know how to integrate and are at a loss to know what to do to change this. This can often lead to a sense of powerlessness and despair.
‘Longer-lived’ individuals have often led full lives, been independent, raised families, worked and been pillars of their communities providing support to those around them. This experience and resource is effectively lost to the younger generation if it is not shared. Therefore, the collation of information needs to be two sided:
- What skills / interests / wants or needs, do older individuals in the community have that they could share with others, thereby jointly enhancing lives and promoting self-worth?
- What community facilities, services, groups are available for use by older individuals living within it?
WHAT TO INCLUDE?
There is no one answer to this question. The starting point is definitely to find out if there is already a good local information sharing service. If there isn’t, maybe you could join others in starting something - below are examples of different types of such groups.
- Education Groups (incl. U3A*)
- Trustworthy tradesmen
- Volunteer opportunities
- Benefit Information
- Bible studies
- Home care
- Lunch groups
- Support groups
- Information specific to health conditions
- Health support
- Social groups
- Leisure groups
- Church groups/services
WHERE DO I FIND THE INFORMATION?
Information can be gained through the internet; local libraries; town/county councils; social services; health services; local charities; local churches. It can (and often does) take quite a long ‘slog’ to pull information together. But that is why it needs to be done – so that the groundwork is done and you have pulled together a ‘one stop’ information point for your community to turn to, to know where to go for what.
It is amazing how much information is known by each ‘service’ that somehow does not make it to other services or to the individuals who may benefit from it.
HOW DO I USE IT?
What medium are you going to use to share your newfound knowledge? Being on the end of the phone; having a church resource centre; community café; a corner of a library; a book shop; a ‘drop in’ centre?
However it is done, make sure you ‘advertise’ everywhere so that your information service does not become yet one more ‘good thing’ that no-one knows about.
And don’t forget to plan how you intend to keep the information up-to-date.