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Girlguide badge to tackle elderly loneliness

19 September 2017 07:56

More than half of over-75s live alone

More than half of over-75s live alone

Manchester's Girlguides are being urged to help the elderly with a new badge incentivising youngsters to tackle senior loneliness.

The pilot badge has been going around nine months, and sees the girls visit sheltered housing schemes and homes for older people to keep them company.

More than half (51%) of over-75s live alone, according to the Campaign to End Loneliness.

Ian Williamson, chief accountable officer, Manchester Health and Care Commissioning (MHCC), says the initiative will go a long way in tackling the physical and psychological effects of loneliness among the elderly community.

He says: "There's so much evidence to show how it contributes to lowering the immune system and making people more prone to illness as well as a major impact on wellbeing.

"If youngsters know this, they can lead by example and raise awareness of an issue that we can all help to solve."

Over-60s can take out senior travel insurance when planning trips to visit family living abroad.

Reciprocal rewards

MHCC officials are pushing for the initiative as a way of breaking down age barriers and tackling loneliness, and believe the wellbeing rewards will be reciprocal, with both the youngsters and senior citizens feeling the benefits.

Former Brownie Veronica Armstrong, 67, from Northenden, a grandmother of 16, said: "Me and my age-group have the time to spend with children and we can give them a different view on life. We also have skills we can show them like sewing, learning to knit and doing gardening.

"Plus, a lot of my friends miss their families because they don't live near their own children or grand kids - and they would really like to have that ongoing involvement with children's projects."

Nationwide roll-out

The badge was launched by groups in Northenden, Manchester, with a 2016 Christmas play for a sheltered housing court and the hosting of an indoor camp fire with story-telling and craft sessions.

The trial has been so successful that it is now being rolled out across all of Manchester, including Rainbows, Brownies, Guides and members of The Senior Section.

There are currently 4.800 members of the Manchester's guiding community, and there are hopes that the badge can be rolled out across the UK.