Services include food parcel delivery, online exercise and arts classes, and printed flyers signposting people without internet access to the facilities available.
Age Friendly Banbury is a partnership between local organisations with an interest in making Banbury an age-friendly town. It brings together older people, community leaders, local charities, businesses, and local councils.
Although during this challenging time of shielding and social distancing many of the ‘normal’ activities enjoyed by our older population have been curtailed, the Age Friendly Banbury partners have been working together to support the older generation with information, advice and support, and ways to keep active and healthy in body and mind through exercise and taking an interest in a variety of subjects.
Some examples of the responsive work partners in Banbury have been doing are:
- Age UK Oxfordshire has established a new helpline for older people concerned by their circumstances:
Age UK’s Oxfordshire Age Friendly Creative Network produces an e-newsletter and Twitter account with interesting ideas and suggestions centred on opportunities to access the arts.
- For those who are not online, Age Friendly Banbury partner Cherwell District Council has produced an information flyer with details of local support available for shopping, mental health, volunteer driving and more, hard copies of which are being delivered to potentially vulnerable households.
- Generation Games is producing online exercise classes and a DVD for those who are not online.
- Citizen’s Advice has delivered over 700 non-perishable food parcels provided for free by SOFEA, in addition to providing many of their advice services online or by phone. They have a conversation with every person who calls asking for a food parcel to see what they can do to support them to be safely self-sufficient.
- Visit Banbury CIC is acting as a broker for mutual support locally by putting different organisations in touch with each other to share resources, and work collaboratively, via a regular newsletter.
Pat Coomber-Wood, CEO at Citizens Advice North Oxon and South Northants, says: “The challenge is on – we need to be innovative and not do things in the way we’ve always done them. We need to work collaboratively and share resources rather than engage in a race for funding like the panic-buying stockpilers did a few weeks back. We need a longer-term, considered approach, or we will simply exhaust ourselves and focus our energies on the wrong things, and services will simply stop when the money runs out.” Age Friendly Banbury’s partnership aims to tackle this issue and ensure the voluntary and statutory services in this part of Oxfordshire are aligned and complementary.
The Citizens Advice charity has received £10,564 in grant funding from OCF’s Community Resilience Fund to assist with this COVID-19 response work; you can hear Pat talking about the impact made and the challenges she currently faces as a charity leader here.