A charity which helps intergenerational friendships blossom in Islington and Camden has praised the "power of a phone call" to beat loneliness amid the pandemic.

North London Cares' 10th Winter Wellbeing project, which is run in partnership with Camden and Islington Councils, started in October 2020 and will end in March 2021.

The project sees neighbours who are over 65 connect with younger people with the help of activities, such as social clubs or phone-in sessions.

Islington Gazette: North London Cares connects older people to organisations that can help with tasks and neighbours for friendship.North London Cares connects older people to organisations that can help with tasks and neighbours for friendship. (Image: North London Cares)

It also connects older people to organisations that can help with tasks such as shopping, prescription pick-ups and receiving housing advice.

Emily Groves, 30, head of the winter wellbeing project, expressed her joy at the work North London Cares does in Islington, describing it as a "real gift" of a job.

She said: “The power of a phone call is outstanding.

“People really appreciate that somebody is looking out for them.

“I have seen 90-year-olds come out of their shell and sing at social clubs when they would never have done that two years ago.”

She puts this down to the family-like atmosphere of North London Cares.

The charity hosts 20 social clubs online, with older and younger volunteers involved in activities such as cooking classes, dance parties, history lessons and yoga.

She said: “[For] some people, it takes many years to get them closer to meeting their full potential, in that sense, we do not give up on people.”

One example, she said, is a man who had help getting food at the start of the first lockdown who was encouraged to attend one of the charity's social clubs after 10 months.

A woman who is in contact with North London Cares, Meredith, said: “Phone-in clubs are a brilliant way to spend an hour. Like everyone, I’ve found the pandemic incredibly challenging and being able to hear a friendly voice for an hour or two a week has given me something to really look forward to.

“I live by myself, so it’s often been my only contact with someone else that wasn’t work-related.”

North London Cares also works alongside Islington Council and organisations such as Shine, Goodgym and Age UK to connect their neighbours to the right support.

Find out more about the North London Cares’ Winter Wellbeing 2020-21 project at https://northlondoncares.org.uk/blog/winter-wellbeing-2020-21

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