New community fund to benefit older people in Somerset launched

11/01/2011
11 January 2011
Somerset Community Foundation Logo
Somerset focused charities, community and voluntary groups are being encouraged to apply for grants from a new fund aimed at benefitting older people in the county.

The Bernard Herridge grants programme, enabled by the charity’s trustee - Hastoe Housing Association - has been launched this week following research by the Somerset Community Foundation into the needs of the county’s older people.

This new fund complements the Field House Fund and Surviving Winter funds, worth over £100,000 which are already administered by Somerset Community Foundation to support groups working with the elderly in Somerset.

The research, commissioned by Hastoe, confirmed that the needs of older people varied enormously depending on their location and situation. However, common themes emerged including the need for improved access to information, issues surrounding isolation and the lack of adequate transport services.
 
Launching the fund, Helen Riley, Community Development Manager at Hastoe, said: “We commissioned the research to make sure that the money goes to projects that focus on the issues that concern older people in Somerset. We see the ageing population as a positive opportunity – but resources need to be well directed and our focus is on tackling the issues facing older people in rural communities. To achieve that, we will prioritise projects that increase access to support and advice, combat loneliness, promote independence or address fuel poverty.”

Groups looking to apply for funds should approach the Somerset Community Foundation at www.somersetcf.org, on 01749 344949.

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For further information, please contact Rebecca Beaumont on 020 8973 0437 and rbeaumont@hastoe.com

Notes to Editors
 
Bernard Herridge
The Bernard Herridge Charity was set up to provide support that meets the needs of older people in Somerset.

Somerset Community Foundation
The Somerset Community Foundation promotes vibrant, inclusive communities in Somerset through developing a culture of local giving and enabling voluntary groups to combat disadvantage and isolation.

Background to the research & key findings
• Currently about 1 in 5 Somerset residents are estimated to be aged 65+ compared to about one in six of the England population.
• West Somerset has the highest median age of any district in the UK, at 52.1 years, well above the national average of 39.3 (Source: ONS).
• With net inward migration amongst all ages apart from the 16 – 29 yr olds, and people generally living longer, Somerset’s population is set to become even older, ageing at a faster rate than that of the country as a whole. The 85+ population is expected to rise by over 15,000 people by 2028 with a particularly strong increase in the number of very aged men.
• 86% of very aged men, and 75% of very aged women, live in their own home.

The research identified a range of themes:
• Access to information and a lack of awareness of entitlements and services.
• Isolation both physical and social, and the impact this can have on an older person’s health and well being.
• Independence and lack of adequate transport services, the closure of local services and family members living further away.
• The issues of vulnerability, healthy living and fulfillment were also raised as concerns however predominantly amongst the service providers and not the older people themselves. Transport was also highlighted as being one of the biggest concerns, particularly in the more rural communities reinforcing the need for local initiatives to bring services and care to older people.
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