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Age UK Gateshead

Nearly a thousand local older people will get help and support to tackle loneliness thanks to Freemasons grant to Age UK Gateshead

Monday 12th February 2024

Over 900 older people per year from Gateshead and Newcastle will be invited to join community-based group activities, designed to tackle loneliness and isolation, thanks to a grant from North East Freemasons.

The £60,000 grant to Age UK Gateshead will allow over 1,000 ‘Wor Mates’ sessions to help older people through regular activities such as singalongs, history talks, quizzes and walks, across a three-year program within areas of high deprivation in the region.

The sessions will be coordinated initially by a Senior Community Development Worker who will establish each group and then encourage attendees to become managing volunteers, so that each gathering can eventually become self-organising.

The grant from Durham and Northumberland Freemasons will fund the salary of the Senior Community Development Worker alongside a budget to support attendees’ travel to the groups.

Age UK’s post-covid report shows [1], 1.4m older people in the UK are often lonely, with the charity predicting this figure will most likely rise to 2m by 2026. Key drivers of loneliness include poor health, low income and digital exclusion, something Age UK Gateshead believes the groups can help tackle. 

The ‘Wor Mates’ sessions will provide free friendly activities, which will not only help older people to socialise and establish friendships, but will also signpost them to the wider services of Age UK in their local areas.

The grant from Durham and Northumberland Freemasons comes through the Masonic Charitable Foundation, which is funded by Freemasons, their families and friends, from across England and Wales.

Kate Wildish from Age UK Gateshead, said:

“We’re very grateful to the North-East Freemasons for their generous grant. As we know ourselves, it can be daunting turning up to new groups or activities alone, which is why we hope these sessions can bring local older people together, tackle isolation head on and also encourage individuals to improve their health and wellbeing.”

John Watts from Durham Freemasons, said:

“I’m very pleased we’ve been able to help Age UK Gateshead with their hugely important project. Sadly over a million elderly people in this country go for a month or more without holding a meaningful conversation with another human being. Age UK Gateshead are helping to put a stop to this situation.”

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