Many of Manchester’s older population are refusing to let age get in the way of an active social life and new friendships.
Proving that a busy social diary is as much of a tonic as a rest, new research* from Royal Voluntary Service, the national volunteering charity, finds that over eight in ten (87%) people aged 70 and over surveyed in Manchester have an active social life. Over four in ten (45%) socialise at least twice a week and just over one in six (18%) four times a week or more. Over half (54%) of respondents said they had made new friends since turning 70, just over one in five (22%) of them through attending a new organised social group. Just over three in ten (31%) would like more opportunities locally to meet people or make new friends.
Across the whole of Great Britain, just over half (52%) of senior socialites go to an organised club, group or activity, citing staying in touch with friends (78%), meeting new people (55%), getting out of the house (74%) and keeping their brain active (65%) as key benefits. Almost three fifths (59%) said that attending organised social activities makes them feel positive and 49% said that it helps their mental health.
To provide more opportunities for older people to enjoy the benefits of an active social life, Royal Voluntary Service is calling on community-minded individuals, groups of friends or teams to set up new social groups and activities across Manchester. This new social network will be supported by funds raised by players of People’s Postcode Lottery. These Volunteer co-ordinators will receive training, guidance and support on how to set up, run and manage the groups.
Rebecca Kennelly, Director of Volunteering for Royal Voluntary Service said: “Being social and active are vitally important for everybody’s health and wellbeing, but particularly as we age. Whether it’s going to an art group, an exercise class or breakfast club, we know from our research that having an active social life makes a real difference to older people’s lives, bringing happiness, confidence, new friendships and a sense of connection. We’re looking for energetic people with great ideas, life experience and a desire to make a difference for their community to come forward and help us set up exciting new clubs and classes that enrich local life.”
For older people living alone, opportunities to socialise are especially important. Nearly one in five (19%) over 70s surveyed across Great Britain that lived alone said that they don’t have a social life, with some stating that they spend most of their time at home (12%) and without meeting new people (9%). Four in ten lone dwellers said they would like more opportunities locally to meet people or make new friends.
Royal Voluntary Service ambassador Felicity Kendal recently spent time meeting volunteers at a volunteer-led social club in Bedfont in Middlesex. She said: “I’ve seen first-hand the difference these clubs make to older people’s lives, particularly to those living alone, who may not see other people or socialise regularly. Without social stimulation and the company of others, we lose our sense of connection and often our confidence in the process. Social groups like this one, where local volunteers provide a warm welcome, a friendly atmosphere and lively conversation over a cuppa, have a vital role to play in society. I hope more people will come forward to set up social clubs in their local communities.”
Laura Chow, Head of Charities at People’s Postcode Lottery said: “We’re delighted that players of People’s Postcode Lottery are supporting Royal Voluntary Service with this important programme of work which will build connections and help reduce social isolation in communities throughout Great Britain. Loneliness is an epidemic with far-reaching consequences for people’s health and mental wellbeing, and we can all help play a part in tackling it.”
Royal Voluntary Service is one of Britain’s largest volunteering charities with over 20,000 volunteers supporting thousands of people each month in hospitals and in the community. The charity is also one of the largest retailers in the NHS, with its network of cafes and shops providing a valued haven in hospitals
For more information on how to set up a new social club, group or activity in your local community visit: www.royalvoluntaryservice.org.