Volunteers provide lifeline for elderly

Pensioners taking part in a Caring Together exercise class in Woodhouse Community Centre, Leeds.   Picture: Simon Hulme.
Pensioners taking part in a Caring Together exercise class in Woodhouse Community Centre, Leeds. Picture: Simon Hulme.
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FOR hundreds of elderly people living in one corner of Leeds, a local charity has been providing an invaluable lifeline for more than 15 years.

Caring Together works with around 350 older people in the Woodhouse and Little London areas of the city, offering a wealth of services upon which many have come to rely.

“The underlying purpose is to tackle loneliness and social isolation and really get older people involved in the local community,” said Caring Together’s manager Cherril Cliff.

“By far the best and the most successful things we do involve getting people out and about – we organise trips and parties, craft groups, community choirs... all sorts of things they ask us to provide.”

Three times a week, groups meet for free fitness classes at the Woodhouse Community Centre, followed by a chat over a cup of tea.

“The feedback is just amazing,” Ms Cliff said. “People often tell us that if we weren’t here, they would never really leave the house.”

A team of 45 volunteers provide vital support to the small team of paid staff and enable Caring Together to provide a wealth of home support services as well.

“We do all sorts of things, like helping make sure they get benefits, or making sure their homes are warm,” Ms Cliff said.

Caring Together’s grant from the Communities in Need campaign will enable staff to provide a transport service for disabled elderly people to access their services.

“Unless we can provide that door-to-door service, a lot of people just can’t get to us to join our groups,” Ms Cliff said. “We’re often the only people they’ll see all week – that’s how important this money is.”