Age UK Enfield launches campaign as pandemic impact continues, reports Olivia Devereux-Evans
Age UK Enfield has suffered a big financial hit during the pandemic while also seeing a huge increase in demand, according to the organisation’s boss.
Speaking to the Dispatch, chief executive Ben Ingber said the increase in demand for Age UK’s services was largely caused by the Covid-19 lockdown and the way the charity changed the needs of the people it supports.
Ben said: “Those issues around physical health, mental health, loneliness and isolation have been driving up demand. We are still getting 150 calls a week through customer services. Previously that may have been 90 but probably less.
“Referrals to our memory services, which are predominately for people who have just been diagnosed with dementia, have also gone up. We had 50 [in one month] whereas previously they would average about 25 a month.”
To cope with the increase in demand over winter, the charity has now launched a new winter fundraising appeal – ‘Spread the Warmth’. Ben said: “We wanted to recognise the fact it is going to be a difficult winter for older people, for some of the people that we support with dementia and their carers.
“We wanted to ask people to support us in order to be able to support them through this period.”
Age UK Enfield runs a variety of services, including day care services for people with dementia, exercise classes, walks around the borough, and health and wellbeing services. Before the pandemic, all of these were delivered face-to-face. Since the pandemic, information and advice has mostly been given over the phone and, in the first lockdown, they had to stop running exercise classes.
One positive, however, has been the way elderly people have learned to adapt to new technology, with services such as the memory club successfully moving to Zoom. After the pandemic Ben wants online services to continue in the future alongside usual face-to-face work, because there are many people with limited mobility who could be more easily reached this way.
Ben praised the staff he works with and the sacrifices they have made over the last year but warned that the charity’s financial difficulties would continue to be felt. He added: “It is still a difficult time. It is really worrying in the short term.
“Running campaigns like this is one of the only options open to us.”