ACE Neighbours is a peer support programme where older volunteers support older adults to become more active and to engage with their local community. The programme which is funded by LinkAge Network, is being delivered by St Monica Trust in Hartcliffe, Withywood and Keynsham.
What does ACE do?
- ACE Neighbours matches volunteers (aged 60+) with older isolated adults (aged 65+) who want to get out more often.
- Volunteers are DBS checked and trained and visit older people in their homes. Together, the older person and the volunteer find out what the older person is interested in doing and the volunteer provides a list of activities in the area.
- The volunteer accompanies the older person to an activity until such time as the older person is confident and comfortable attending on their own.
- The volunteer keeps in touch with the older person, helping to motivate them to stay active over a six month period.
- As well as one-to-one support from the volunteer, ACE Neighbours provides group support. Matched pairs of older people and volunteers get together and do an activity together or simply meet for a cuppa. This provides motivation to keep active as well as company and additional support. Many lasting friendships were formed in the group get-togethers during an earlier ACE pilot project in Bristol!
How can you prove this will improve people’s health and wellbeing?
- ACE Neighbours is a project which has been funded by LinkAge Network and we are working with the University of Bath to evidence the difference that is made to the health and well-being of older adults.
- Data from the university’s pilot project showed there was a marked increase after six months in the number of activities in which older people engaged in – for both participants and volunteers!
- ACE Neighbours monitors the wellbeing and physical activity levels of both participants and volunteers through the use of questionnaires and activity monitors at the start and end of the six month period. Results are compared and contrasted to see if ACE Neighbours really makes a difference to well-being.
What people have said about ACE in the past?
- “I am so grateful that I joined ACE…it is an entry to a world that so easily gets lost as one ages. I never stop being grateful to you for starting the ACE group.”
- “It’s been like a door opening.”
- “This has been marvellous for me. I was out of the swim before but with help, I feel in the swim again.”
- “It changed me. It makes me go out and see other people.”
What is it like to volunteer?
As a volunteer I’ve…
- “Helped other people by being a role model.”
- “Increased my knowledge, skills and confidence.”
- “Had a positive impact in the community.”
- “Improved my own health.”
- “Made a difference to others.”
- “Had fun!”
Roger’s job for Imperial Tobacco took him all over the UK; when he was at home in Keynsham he was involved in family life and raising his children. So despite living in Keynsham for over 50 years, Roger hadn’t had the opportunity to develop many social links.
With no local family or friends and feeling detached from his neighbours and community, Jeffrey wanted some help to build his confidence to get out and about and enjoy life. Anne was keen to volunteer with older people after a lifetime of working with children, and so became an ACE Neighbours volunteer.
“I wasn’t coping with life and didn’t want to be here.” Ellen, a much loved mother and grandmother, was going through a difficult time and had become withdrawn. “I was in a bad place. I didn’t want to go out. I felt isolated and afraid to leave the house.”
Our team of Community Development Coordinators have enjoyed supporting the building of a plinth and pizza oven at Zion Bristol, a community arts space in Bedminster Down, together with members of the centre’s very own Memories Café.
Community Development Coordinator for Central and East Bristol, Wendy Harris, has worked with residents and local groups from Speedwell over the last few months to plan a Big Picnic in the Park, bringing the local community together.