We've been running weekly online activity groups for older people in South Wales during lockdown. Each 90-minute session included around 45 minutes of gentle exercise, plus time to get to know others in a friendly, sociable setting.
We wanted to evaluate the impact of these groups and so during April and May, when Wales was in full lockdown, we sent surveys to 85 older people after they had attended our groups for eight weeks and received responses from 52%. We also conducted several interviews.
The most significant impact of the groups was on the physical health and wellbeing of those who took part. Importantly, we found that attending the weekly groups allows older people to build social connections, helping to reduce loneliness. It also enables older people to build confidence, particularly around the use of digital technology.
- 80% of older people said that they felt less lonely as a result of attending the groups.
- 80% of older people said that their wellbeing had improved as a result of attending the groups.
- 80% of older people reported being more active since attending the groups.
- 61% reported that their confidence had improved since attending the groups.
Some also shared some of their thoughts on the groups with us:
'The groups make me feel so relaxed.'
'It's been a chance to socialise and be with others again.'
'I'm able to do more jobs in the garden now.'
'I've never used Zoom before but I found it really easy.'
As social restrictions are beginning to ease, we are slowly re-starting our face to face groups across South Wales.
Our volunteers keep spirits up during lockdown.
Throughout lockdown, every three months, volunteers from the Thurrock tea party group have delivered tea treats to their guests, as a reminder they have been thinking of them during these difficult times.
Statement from Re-engage as restrictions start lifting
We hope that the re-start will bring a great deal of joy to the lives of older people and volunteers alike and that we can all share responsibility for keeping others safe.