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Dear Friend,

With the onset of restrictions during the pandemic, we were inundated with suggestions of ways to work with older people online. We wanted to fully understand the ways older people perceive and value technology. So we carried out research and found that around half of over 75s are not online and for some this is out of choice.  At the same time, others regularly use the internet, often seeing it as a lifeline.  We're committed to offering those we support both digital and in person experiences, as well as to tackling the massive issue of online fraud and scams.  

Last month we launched rainbow call companions, our new free telephone befriending service for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT+) older people.  Since the launch, we've been heartened to see how many rainbow call companions have stepped forward to join us as volunteers.  Our research told us that there is a real need for this service, but we're also keenly aware of how difficult it is to reach older members of the LGBT+ community, many of whom suffer chronic loneliness as a result of decades of privacy and self-concealment.  Please do help us spread the word so that we can offer those who remain silent the hand of friendship and an opportunity to talk openly, without fear of judgement. 

We have loved getting to know 21-year-old Erin, who became a volunteer call companion at the start of the year. Her generosity of spirit shines through her words and we're extremely grateful to her for championing staff volunteering and donations at Yorkshire Building Society, where she works.  

And finally, retired nurse Mary Keir turned 110 in March and is believed to be Wales' oldest woman. In our newsletter you can read more about her experiences as a nurse during the Second World War and her secrets to a living a long life.

Thanks for your support,

Meryl

Meryl Davies
CEO, Re-engage

Meet rainbow call companion Julian

Last month we launched rainbow call companions, our new free telephone befriending service for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT+) people aged 75 and over who would like to speak to someone who is also LGBT+. You can read all about the service, or refer someone you know here, or you may be interested in becoming a volunteer yourself. 

To celebrate the launch, we caught up with Julian, one of our first rainbow call companion volunteers. 

Meet Julian

Online in your 80s: lifeline or waste of time?

The pandemic has changed our attitude to being online, but what about those over 75 who are socially isolated and without friends or family to help them get online? Our research told us that half of older people who live alone still have no access to the internet.  But this is not the full picture.  Whilst others confirmed they choose not to be online, many see the internet as a lifeline; a way pursue interests, carry out day to day tasks and keep in touch with family.  

Read our report

Bringing generations together

Becoming aware of how isolated an older neighbour felt during the pandemic prompted 21-year-old Erin to get in touch with Re-engage. Today, Erin, who lives in Inverness, is one of our call companion volunteers and a wonderful example of the positive impact of bringing different generations together. She also champions staff volunteering at Yorkshire Building Society, where she works. Of her experience as a call companion for Re-engage she says, "It’s amazing how a simple call can make such a difference." 

Meet Erin

Please complete our survey

We want to understand the need for different services for those aged 75+ in Liverpool, London, and Manchester. We’d like to hear from older people living in those areas about their needs and interests. We are particularly keen to hear from those experiencing loneliness or social isolation, as well as people aged 75+ more generally. If you are, or you know, an older person living in Greater Manchester, the Liverpool area, or London, we'd be very grateful if you could take a minute to complete our short survey.

Please complete our survey

The secrets to a long life

"She's something of a miracle," is how 70-year-old Robert describes his mother Mary Keir, who turned 110 in March. Believed to be Wales' oldest woman, Mary says "keeping busy and gardening" are the secrets to her long life. Born in 1912 in St Davids in Pembrokeshire, Mary worked as a nurse before, during and after the second world war.  In December 2020, she became one of the first care home residents in Wales to receive a Covid vaccine. 

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