January 18, 2024

Elder Voice

Elder Voice is a local charity helping older people maintain independence.

Tackling loneliness, isolation and malnutrition, the Blairgowrie-based charity offers a voluntary transport service for those who, due to their age, ill health, disability or lack of transport, might otherwise struggle to attend NHS medical appointments.

Connecting older people with volunteers, the charity also offers a befriending service and lunch club aimed at breaking down barriers and inequalities around older people, supporting independence, improving mental health and wellbeing, and fostering social connections.

Since its launch in 2018, demand for the services provided by Elder Voice has grown significantly, most notably through the Covid-19 lockdown.

From supporting just one person to over 600, the charity now works with people across the Strathmore area, up to the Glens, taking in various towns and villages including Blairgowrie, Coupar Angus, Meigle, Ardler and Wolfhill. 

As part of its commitment to the Scottish Government’s priority of “tackling isolation and loneliness and building strong communities”, the charity requires long-term, sustainable funding to continue its good work and build its impact within rural communities.

Maggie Urquhart, Local Services Manager, Elder Voice, explained, “As a not-for-profit, funding is an ongoing challenge. With demand growing year on year, it’s crucial that we are embedded in the community and can continue to meet the needs of older people, recruit volunteers and promote ourselves.”

After seeing an advert for the NHS Tayside Charitable Foundation, Elder Voice approached the charity, confident their criteria met their strategic aims.

The foundation funded the project to the value of £250,000, allowing Elder Voice to recruit a part-time administrator who manages the day-to-day running of the project.

With the funding meeting the administrator's costs, Elder Voice has been able to continue its work and meet the ‘monumental’ growth experienced since Covid-19.

Maggie continued, “Because we’re working in small, rural communities, all of our services require transport and that comes at a cost.  If older people can’t rely on public transport or struggle to access it, it affects their health and wellbeing.  The services we provide not only allow people to attend their NHS appointments but keep them connected, part of society and active members of their community.

“As well as our befriending club and lunch club, we also hold events. For example, our Summer Concert showcased the skills and talents of some of the people we support, from a choir and duets to guitar playing and poetry.  Seeing the emotions of the families who could see the difference our befriending programme had made was wonderful.

“Without our projects, so many people might slip into depression, isolation, even malnutrition. So the funding we have received has made a huge difference to the ongoing work of Elder Voice and every single person we support, as well as their wider circle of friends and family who see the knock-on benefits every day.”

The Future

Looking ahead, Elder Voice is looking to grow its service offering, particularly around sustainable transport. Having recently taken delivery of an electric vehicle, the charity is now looking at sustainable and fully inclusive transport, including E-bikes and rickshaws, as well as encouraging more walking and cycling. The charity’s ultimate aim is to create a community transport hub for everyone, not just older people.

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