A charity that supports isolated and lonely people across Aberdeen has revealed it could have to close in just three months unless urgent funding can be secured.
The Living Well Project issued the stark warning after Aberdeen City Health and Social Care Partnership withdrew its funding following a review of their social care model.
The charity, which was set up in 2010, operates out of Newhills Parish Church and offers befriending services for isolated and lonely older people, as well as support for those living with dementia and their carers.
It also runs the Living Well Cafes in churches at Ferryhill, Hilton, Oldmachar and Newhills.
But unless urgent funding can be secured, the charity has warned that the cafes and its befriending scheme may only be able to run for another three or four months.
A spokesman for the Aberdeen City health and social care partnership said: “The Living Well café funding has come to an end after careful consideration, as part of our strategic review of all buildings-based day services in the city.
“We are also keen to engage with clients and carers and would urge them to make contact so that we can explore alternatives, like signposting to existing community groups or, if eligible, looking at other options by providing a budget under Self-Directed Support so that service users and carers can be supported to join in with activities that they enjoy.
“We are committed to creating more choices and locally-based community options for all citizens in Aberdeen, in line with what carers and users have told us in surveys about the need for more choice and accessibility.
“With that in mind, we would welcome people contacting us on 01224 264004 or by emailing Stay Well Stay Connected SWSC@aberdeencity.gov.uk to talk about their circumstances and needs.”
With provisions for day care presenting a significant challenge, the partnership has said it is committed to find alternatives with the help of carers.
Remaining positive as new funding options looked at
Daniel Bennett, convener of The Living Well Project said: “With statutory funding no longer available we have to look at exploring more specific funding opportunities.
“There has been an ad-hoc approach to securing funding, but we have now appointed a sub-team to develop grant applications for longer term funding.
“We are hopeful that the situation will improve.”
The group is determined to remain positive however, and the duo who run the cafes have set themselves a huge fundraising challenge to not only boost the charity’s income but raise awareness of their work.
Jeanette Abel and Linda Rendall will climb Brimmond Hill as many times as they can over a 12-hour period on June 5. Already, they have raised £5,808.
When the cafes shut due to the pandemic, the pair kept in touch with the regulars by phone and e-mail and kept their spirits up with wordsearches and puzzles.
Now they’re ready for their walking challenge to ensure support can resume.
Partnerships ensure right support is on offer
“We signpost people to organisations that can provide a service or help in practical ways,” they said.
“We offer a variety of activities at the cafes with a strong emphasis on music.
“We encourage people to sing and dance, focusing on what people can do rather than what they are no longer able to do, for example we start our sessions with chair-based exercises and people do what they are physically able to do – and with lots of laughter.”
On June 5, they will walk up and down the hill as many times as they can between 7am and 7pm.
Mrs Rendell added: “We haven’t put a target on our fundraising, our management team are exploring all avenues of funding in order to secure our future.
“It was one of those moments in the shower where I came up with this idea and it has just grown arms and legs from there.
“I messaged Jeanette saying ‘I’ve been thinking’ and she said ‘oh no what now’, and we thought lets just do it.
“We are delighted with what we have raised already but to keep the lights on we need a heck of a lot more. There is clearly a huge need for facilities such as ours as the demand is so high in Aberdeen, we are passionate about what we do, supporting people we dementia.
“Especially their carers who have had no support, and it is really testing their resilience, the cafes have been such a life-line to so many people.”