Cyrenians takes Older People Active Lives project to Scottish Borders

Cyrenians takes Older People Active Lives project to Scottish Borders

An active walk in Linlithgow

Cyrenians is to launch its activity project for people aged 60+ in the Borders this summer in partnership with Eildon Housing Association.

Older People Active Lives (OPAL) is a prevention service targeted at older people living in Eildon properties across the Borders. The project specifically addresses social isolation and loneliness by building local connections, personal resilience and a much-needed sense of community. It can be difficult for many to talk about mental health and so OPAL in the Borders is designed around community-based befriending to help support people to improve their mental health and wellbeing, increase their confidence and maintain their independence.

Older people are widely identified by the Scottish Government and other bodies as one of the main ‘at risk’ groups and have been disproportionately affected by the pandemic. Findings from the Feeley Report (on COVID specifically), for example, highlighted people whose community-based supports had been reduced or entirely stopped, alongside additional pressures on carers and providers resulting in a negative impact on people’s physical and mental wellbeing.

At a local level, the situation in the Borders is no different, perhaps worse given the rural nature of the area. Older tenants in Eildon’s properties have been significantly impacted as low-level support and social activities have been restricted. Many live in remote communities where accessing local services is challenging.

Pauline Moffat, Cyrenians OPAL service manager, said: “We are delighted to be launching this project in partnership with Eildon Housing Association. A large proportion of their tenants are over the age of 60 and will be able to benefit from our long history of supporting older people to reconnect with people and activities in their local community.

“We know through nine years of delivering OPAL in West Lothian how life-changing our befriending partnerships can be for both the individual referred to our service, and the volunteers we support to build trusted relationships. We are so excited to bring a new offering of groups, activities and befriending to the Scottish Borders.”

Amanda Miller, director of community services at Eildon, added: “We are looking forward to getting started on this exciting project, working with Cyrenians to expand their successful OPAL service into the Borders. The last few years have been tough for many, and we’re delighted to be able to offer our older tenants this range of activities and opportunities to come together, get active and make friendships with OPAL in the Borders.

“Our approach to delivering inclusive growth in the Borders involves partnering with like-minded organisations like Cyrenians to make links with and support our communities and meet our customers’ needs and aspirations. I look forward to seeing what I’m sure will be the great benefits of this project.”

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