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Giving loneliness the heave-ho

The Joining Forces programme has now ended

Joining Forces was an Armed Forces Covenant Fund Trust supported programme in partnership with SSAFA, the Armed Forces charity. It was delivered by 12 local projects across England by local Age UKs and SSAFA branches. After 3 successful years, the programme has now ended. Many of the pages in this section will still be useful for information and advice. Alternatively, you can look at the relevant sections of the Age UK website.

Loneliness can impact us at any time of life. But with 2 million of the 3.6 million people living alone in the UK aged 75 and over, its effects can be even more detrimental to wellbeing. Joining Forces continues to use inclusive and inventive ways to combat loneliness in older veterans across the country.

Coffee and cake or a getaway break

Age UK North Yorkshire & Darlington run three veterans’ cafes, two of which are weekly (Darlington and Northallerton), and one that’s on a monthly basis (Richmond). They don’t just provide a chance for a cup of tea, some cake and a chat with people with similar experiences, but also opportunities for regular trips.

These might be to a location associated with military history, such as a museum or site of commemoration, or a visit to the seaside or nearby Lake District in the summer months.

The healing power of companionship

Sandy Sanderson, Veteran Support Officer at Age UK North Yorkshire & Darlington shares an example of the transformative effect Joining Forces has on the lives of older veterans, in this case a man who was widowed 18 months ago. Because of problems with the man’s mental and physical health, his late wife had done everything for him, which, combined with the fact he had few friends to provide support meant he was starting to despair about his situation.

Thankfully he was told about Joining Forces, and soon became a regular visitor to Age UK North Yorkshire & Darlington’s veterans’ café, making new friends, including someone he describes as “an angel” and enjoys regular meals with. “Without it I would be dead,” the gentleman says of the upswing he’s experienced thanks to the opportunities offered by Joining Forces. “I had no reason to live, but thanks to Joining Forces and meeting other veterans I have a future. My life is better and I know that I have friends.”

Age UK North Yorkshire & Darlington

A local, independent charity, committed to delivering services to older people, including older veterans, in North Yorkshire and Darlington.

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Last updated: Jun 16 2020

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