Action group’s success at fighting loneliness
Gerrards Cross organisation is continuing to grow in popularity
Its success is something the chairman of the Chalfont and Gerrards Cross Village Older Persons Action Group (VOPAG), Tony Offord, has put down to good local publicity.
But Mr Offord doesn’t want the growth to stop there and is hopeful this branch of VOPAG will keep on expanding indefinitely.
“People don’t know about it, but now we get publicity in the local supermarket and the local doctors practice,” he said.
Mr Offord added: “It’s expanding and it’s simply because of the additional publicity. This last meeting was well over 60 [visitors], down to the publicity.”
“It’s been expanding for the last two or three months.”
83-year-old Mr Offord has been in his current role for around two months, having joined about 18 months ago.
According to him the importance of the group cannot be overestimated.
“There’s nothing here for the elderly people,” he said. “What we’re trying to do is give them a pleasure situation or an interest situation on a together basis.”
He added: “People can benefit from this sort of thing. It’s like a club.”
Giulia Johnson, chief executive at Age UK Buckinghamshire, said that social groups like these were extremely important things to have for the elderly in their area.
“They are very good things to have,” she said. “Local groups such as this provide an essential function in combatting loneliness and social isolation in older people, and as such are extremely important in their local communities.”
Yvonne Martin, corporate trust and fundraising manager at Friends of the Elderly, said: “Any kind of social groups or gathering is vital, because we’re social creatures.
“To be without any contact for a long period of time would be a pretty terrifying thing. It’s one of the biggest fears and one of the biggest punishments, like in solitary confinement.”
She added: “Social groups are vital for peoples’ wellbeing.”
VOPAG meet at the Community Centre, Gravel Hill, in Chalfont St Peter. They have planned a special Christmas event on December 15. Contact Mr Offord on 01753 886 706 for more information.