The Asda Foundation
The Asda Foundation has awarded Royal Voluntary Service over £1.2m to support projects which enable volunteers to provide practical support and companionship to older people at home and in the community.
Thanks to their support, since 2016 over 200 local volunteer led groups have been supported across the UK and over 2,286 people have been helped to stay connected to their communities.
As the country faced the coronavirus pandemic, the Asda Foundation quickly responded to our emergency appeal to support older and vulnerable people by providing a grant of £200,000 to enable volunteers across Great Britain to make 100,000 companionship calls to vulnerable people isolating at home. Many of the people we support need help adjusting to a very different way of life so volunteers will call for a friendly chat, checking how they are bearing up physically and mentally and signposting other sources of help should they be required.
Community Companion groups are teams of volunteers who provide companionship and a range of practical support to local older people. The groups are small, often covering a village/small group of villages or part of a town or city. The grass roots, locally focussed nature of the groups means that volunteers are often able to actively identify older people who need some help and have a good knowledge of all the other local clubs, activities and services that are also available.
Community Companions volunteers will provide a range of support depending on the needs of their communities and the individual older people they are visiting. This could include things like:
- Visiting older people at home to watch a film, do some crafting or just have a chat over a cup of tea.
- Providing transport to visit friends or family. Older people can find their worlds becoming much smaller if they find it difficult to get out and see friends. The telephone is no substitute for face to face contact.
- Enjoying a meal together, either at home or at a local café or pub.
- activity that they enjoy – this could be a Royal Voluntary Service Shed, Dining Club or activity group, or one run by another organisation.
- Making sure that older people can carry on doing the things that are important to them – whether that’s getting out in the garden, watching the local cricket team or going to a faith group.
Thanks to funding from the Asda Foundation, we’ll set up 30 new Community Companions groups benefitting over 700 people.
Eating food in the company of others has numerous health benefits. Research has identified that the quantity and quality of food eaten is affected by lack of social engagement – in a study where older adults were invited to eat with familiar others, intake increased by 60%.
are clubs run by volunteers for older people to come together to enjoy tasty food and company on a regular basis anytime and anywhere, whether for breakfast, lunch or dinner. As well as not having to worry about cooking or washing up, it provides a chance to meet local like-minded people in a welcoming environment. It could be breakfast at a local café every Monday morning, curry on a Thursday night or a roast at a nearby pub on a Sunday, the intention of Dining Clubs is to that there is something for everyone.
Thanks to funding from the Asda Foundation, between 2016 and 2019:
- 57 local groups were helped to set up or transform a social dining activity
- 1,386 older people enjoy a regular meal in company
- 314 volunteers gave their time and talent to support a local dining club
Older people who were part of a dining club said that they felt more connected to their communities and had more social contact since they joined their club.
Sheds are community spaces where people can come together to take part in practical skills and activities. Sometimes called Men’s Sheds or Community Sheds, they are designed and run by their members and provide opportunities for people to share tools, resources and skills in order to create, learn and develop social networks.
Royal Voluntary Service provides practical help and advice to communities who want to set up a new Shed or develop an existing one.
The Asda Foundation supported our Sheds project for three years. During this time, 15 new Sheds were set up, 41 existing Sheds were strengthened and 100 groups benefitted from funding for their Shed through our small grants scheme.
"The Asda Foundation is one of the many ways we can give something back to our local communities. That’s why we lend a hand to a wide range of good causes with which our colleagues are involved with, sharing their passion and helping to make a difference through a variety of projects across the UK.
"We see the programmes run by Royal Voluntary Service as making a real difference at a grassroots level and are proud to support them."
Annmarie Rocks, The Asda Foundation
Visit asdafoundation.org, find them on Facebook, facebook.com/asda or search on Twitter, twitter.com/AsdaFoundation
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