Fighting covid blues with dancing shoes and festive tunes

Written by Stanley Shepherd, Project Coordinator for Team Challenge, ELBA

More than 2 million people in England over the age of 75 live alone, and more than a million older people say they go for over a month without speaking to a friend, neighbour or family member. This has led to a loneliness epidemic in the UK, which has been exacerbated further by COVID-19. Research after the first lockdown in 2020 unearthed some concerning statistics surrounding confidence amongst older people:

  • Two in five people feel less confident going to the shops
  • Two in three are less confident using public transport
  • Nearly half feel less confident going to a hospital appointment

Royal Docks Learning & Activity Centre (RDLAC) is a community centre that provides a wide range of opportunities and projects for the local community. A regular part of their work is to host a variety of activities for older people including computer classes, bingo, health & wellbeing workshops, yoga and much more. After a tough year, the members deserved a well-earned party. With the fantastic help of Covid-tested volunteers (pictured), more than 40 older people enjoyed a jam-packed day, which included music, food, raffles and even a line dancing performance!

The impact of group services for older people such as the Christmas party cannot be underestimated. Research shows that because of these activities:

  • 86 per cent feel less lonely
  • 83 per cent now feel part of a community
  • 61 per cent feel more confident
  • 22 per cent see their doctor less

In 2019, ELBA received funding from the National Lottery to bolster its work in reducing isolation amongst older people. Through the pandemic, this has allowed ELBA to provide a number of innovative opportunities to engage with older people virtually. While this has been a great success, the importance of face-to-face interaction has not been forgotten. It was great to see volunteers interacting with older members of the community; making friends, chatting, dancing, eating and most importantly, having fun!

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