ROAR: Connections for Life’s mission is to connect lives and promote health and well-being in later life.
There are currently nine health and well-being clubs run by ROAR across Renfrewshire. Acting as a social gathering point for the local community, they run on a weekly basis and generally serve hot food.
Other activities facilitated by ROAR include a befriending service, while volunteering opportunities are provided to promote further social inclusion. Nicola Hanssen, General Manager, stressed the importance of using volunteering opportunities as a means of addressing loneliness: they build confidence, increase the volunteer’s social network and help bypass the initial stigma of reaching out for help with loneliness and isolation.
Information and signposting services are also offered to assist people with accessing vital services or dealing with complex application forms.
ROAR’s other activities include:
Following a negotiated tender and procurement process, ROAR was awarded a five-year contract by Renfrewshire Council for the delivery of Low Level Preventative Services for older people in Renfrewshire. This contract supports the nine health and well-being clubs, befriending services, volunteering programmes and information and signposting services.
Grant funding is used to maintain falls-prevention services, otago classes and a men’s group. Meanwhile, responsibly-priced enterprise activity (a craft club, foot hygiene care services, cooking groups, a weekly cinema club and an iPad and tablet class for older people) ensures a robust array of income streams. Surplus money can then be redirected to ensure that services remain free, or less expensive, in more deprived areas.
ROAR directly supports over 1000 older people each year. Many beneficiaries regularly access two to three services on a weekly basis, others for only a short period. Internal evaluation also revealed that companionship was found to be the most important aspect of any activity. Increasingly, the spread of people’s social network was found to have a profound effect on someone’s motivation to maintain aspects of their health and well-being so they could continue to socialise.
“There are different barriers that people face in terms of becoming included and less isolated...The challenges that older people face in regard to loneliness and social isolation can be very different from those faced by young people or people from ethnic minority backgrounds. The issue should be tackled using different, motivating messages. That should be recognised in this strategy: there won’t be one size that fits all.”