Charity Focus: Age UK Norwich help those in later life stay independent, active and healthy

Age UK Norwich walking group

Enjoying a coffee and a chat after our City History Walking group. - Credit: Age UK Norwich

As part of our drive to support local charities, each week we are highlighting the vital work they do and the difference they make to the lives of people across the local community.

Age UK Norwich is an independent charity that helps give people across Norwich a quality of life in their later years.

The impact of COVID-19 and where the charity goes in 2022

The impact that the pandemic has had on the lives of older people living in Norwich has been unprecedented, and many are now struggling with the aftermath as we start to learn to live with the virus. Loneliness, isolation, being cut off from loved ones and their local community, and difficulties in accessing key health, social care and well-being services are among some of the issues that we, as a charity, have encountered. We were needed more than ever, and we reacted quickly. We provided advice and help with logistics to get food and medicine. We made our primary services accessible online and over the phone. We took our groups online, made information videos, gave regular calls, and posted home-help packs to help keep people active, connected and get the support they need. We transformed our face-to-face befriending service to become telephone befriending, and as demand grew, we recruited more incredible volunteers to offer a friendly voice during a difficult time. 
The journey is only just starting in view of the physical, mental and financial recovery that many older people and their families will need our support with. Age UK research shows 45% of people aged 70 and over say that they are uncomfortable leaving the house, and one in three people agreed their anxiety is worse, or much worse since the start of the pandemic. One in four people are unable to walk as far as before, which is something we have observed directly with those who have now started to come to our groups again. And statistics from the Trussell Trust, show that the nation's food banks have provided more than 2.5m emergency food parcels to people in crisis between April 1, 2020, and March, 31, 2021, an increase from 1.9m in the previous year.
Like many other charities, we have adjusted our services to meet the needs of those we support. As we move forward, our priorities are offering poverty and welfare support, helping people live healthy and connected lives, and aiming to make Norwich a “Age Friendly City” as part of the World Health Organisations framework. 
 

Age UK Norwich Dance to Health class

An Age UK Norwich Dance to Health, falls prevention class. - Credit: Age UK Norwich

About the charity

Age UK Norwich is a local and independent charity dedicated to giving the people of Norwich quality of life in later life. We’re here for anyone over 50 and we pride ourselves on promoting a positive view of ageing. We help people out of poverty and provide independent advice to understand their rights and entitlement; we give in-home support to the most vulnerable, and have lots of welcoming local clubs and groups for many abilities and interests. 
By focusing on the issues that impact our community we help those in later life stay independent, active and healthy throughout later life. Due to the pandemic many older people have seen a decline in their activity levels which can lead to an increased risk in falls, injury, hospitalisation, and an impact on confidence. As well as our group classes, our new Health @ Home service provides one-to-one support to help people re-condition after months indoors and works alongside our new Age Healthy Norwich project. 

Age UK Norwich case study Norwich

Judy raising a glass of water to say 'cheers!' to Amy Goreham, a coach from Age UK Norwich who has helped her improve her health. - Credit: Age UK Norwich

Judy from North Norwich has been working with one of our coaches, Amy Goreham, to help improve her health by making small but effective changes to her lifestyle. “You think that no one cares about you. Then you have someone take an interest in you and you realise perhaps you have gone down a slippery slope. You go for the easy option rather than the healthy one and get in a rut, then you have someone inspire you.” says Judy. As well as working on increasing her activity levels, she’s recognised the benefits of drinking more water and making changes to her diet. She’s also joining some group exercise classes and is looking forward to meeting new friends and continuing her journey towards better health. “I feel better that I’ve got someone taking an interest. As you get older, when you haven’t got your parents anymore, you haven’t got anyone to ask how you are,” explains Judy. “It makes you feel worthwhile. I think it will become part of everyday life. Now every time I have a drink of water I raise a glass and say “cheers Amy!”

Meet Vera - Age UK Norwich's virtual assistant

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As we become more reliant on digital communication, we wanted those that we support to be able to access information quickly and easily, so we’ve introduced Vera – our new virtual assistant. 

Age UK Norwich Vera

Vera is Age UK Norwich's virtual assistant - Credit: Disruption Works


Vera lives on our website and works round the clock to help people whenever they need it.  She can help on a wide range of issues such as how to get food vouchers, find out your benefits entitlement, and let you know what to do if you’re on your own. She’ll give direct links to where you can find information and, if it’s not something that we can help with, she'll let you know who can. She speaks many different languages and, if you’re a healthcare professional, you can make a referral to us directly through Vera. 
Just look for Vera at the bottom right hand of our website, give her a click and start typing your question. 

More information on all our services can be found at www.ageuk.org.uk/norwich/ or you can call us on 01603 496333 or e-mail 

Registered charity number: 1094623