Health SEN member increases services to tackle isolation over festive period

Glasgow-based social enterprise Good Morning Service (GMS) will be increasing its services to reduce the effects of loneliness and social isolation over the festive period.

GMS has been providing a free, daily telephone befriending service, 365 days a year, for older people in Glasgow and South Ayrshire since 2000.

Ever a community-lead organisation, the additional Good Night Calls service was introduced in 2008 following feedback from formal evaluations and gives clients reassurance before retiring for the night. The additional service runs until February 2019.

Calls from trained staff members not only maintain social contact and emotional support for clients, but also act as a safety net alert service – alerting appropriate services to potential health problems whenever a call goes unanswered.

Christmas and New Year is reliably the busiest time of year for GMS, which has seen the team introduce extra services to ensure no client is left suffering from a lack of human contact over the holiday period.

Christmas hampers are delivered on Christmas Day.

GMS also plans to deliver food and gift hampers to clients for the fourth year running – with 66 clients receiving Christmas hampers “and a right good blether” last year.

“I can go into a shell at Christmas time because it’s full of memories. It was really good to see [GMS] on Christmas Day. It was good to get out the photo albums and look back at the holidays we had, they were good times. Made my day, it did,” one 83-year-old client said.

Nicky Thomson, GMS chief executive, added: “It’s a real pleasure to be invited into someone’s home, especially on Christmas Day. Any of us, no matter our age, can struggle with the challenges of the hectic festive season, but for those who are struggling with loneliness there is often the sense of simply being forgotten about, of worthlessness.

“As loneliness and social isolation can dramatically increase the risk of mortality in older people, even after underlying health problems are taken into account, it’s imperative that we’re there to deliver our 365-day support.

“Our motto: five conversations a day are just as important to your health as five fruit and veg, is as relevant today as it was when we said it in 2003, perhaps more so.”