David Andy from Citizen’s Advice Bureau was welcomed to the meeting to provide an overview of the service delivered on behalf of the Area Council.
The service had been grant funded to undertake a pilot initially for 6 months, and clients were seen on the 2nd and 4th Wednesday of each month.
Within the first 3 months, 5 sessions of 4 hours had been held, and 12 clients assisted. 31 unique issues had been dealt with.
As a result £23,979 of additional benefit had been gained and £29,797 of debt had been managed. This equated to £23 of benefit gained from £1 invested and £29 of debt managed per £1 invested.
The service had dealt with issues such as debt, benefit and tax credits, Universal Credit, and employment. Members heard that 67% of clients reported a long term health condition or disability, though only 20% reported that they were on some form of disability or sickness benefit. In addition, and contradicting trends normally seen, 75% of clients were male.
Members discussed the type of assistance given, and concerns about the impact on the elderly with the removal of free TV licences. It was noted that CAB and Age UK not only offer advice but campaign on issues such as this. Members praised the service and the impact it had made in the first quarter.
Jane Holiday, Karen Dennis and Sharon Haggerty from Age UK were welcomed to the meeting. A brief overview of the impact of the previous contract was given. Between 2016-19 16 new activity groups had been developed against a target of 12, with 15 of these still running. 400 Community Car journeys had taken place. More than 100 individuals had been worked with on a 1:1 basis. Events such as winter warmth, slipper exchange, big knit and Christmas parties had been held. Many of the services established were now sustainable.
An update was then provided in relation to
each of the grants provided through the Supporting Vulnerable and
Isolated Older People Fund.
The first project focused on isolated people and deals with the causes of their isolation. This includes assistance with housing, transport, disability, confidence and dementia. Over 6 months 50 individuals had been supported, with substantial improvements seen in their wellbeing and loneliness scores. Information and advice had been given to 32 people, and 38 volunteers had worked with the service.
The second project focused on community activities in smaller communities, and had helped established a new group in Wortley, and provided further development toa group previously established in Tankersley. In addition creative activities were being held in Silkstone and Cawthorne. Work was also being undertaken to address issues in the Dunford area, with community buildings being relatively inaccessible. Members heard of plans to bring Hattie The Chatty Bus to the area, together with a consultation event in the car park of the TPT in Dunford.
Members heard of the progress being made to establish the Men In Sheds project in the area, with a shed being installed with the grounds of St. Andrews Church. 5 volunteers had been involved with the organisation so far, with 11 further wishing to become involved. An official launch had been planned for September.
Those present noted the intergenerational work, which had included events arranged by young people at the IKIC centre, and work to link young people at schools in the area with older people through a Pen Pal project.
The third project delivered by Age UK focused on creating networks and as part of this the Supporting Older People in the Penistone Area (SOPPA) forum had been created. Currently with 12 members, the forum is set to meet approximately every 2 months, and has a closed Facebook group to share information. The forum aims to feed in issues, identify gaps in service, mutually support and work together to address certain challenges.
In addition Members heard that consultation was under way, which will feed into the development of an Age Friendly Penistone Action Plan. Networks are being utilised to engage a wide audience, and Members were encouraged to forward details of any event which would be appropriate to undertake further consultation.
As volunteers remain a key part of the delivery, Members noted that an evening recruitment session was planned for 5th September at the White Heart pub.
Members noted the extra value provided in the area by Age UK, including the additional finance raised towards the Men In Sheds project, and the benefit gained from the delivery of information and advice.
As a result of the work since the start of the projects Members noted much was coming to fruition and the wide range of activities planned over the forthcoming months.
Members discussed the need for wide promotion of the events, and requested that a diary of events be circulated. It was noted that Age UK would be considering its use of social media to undertake more marketing. Those present discussed the use of digital technologies by the client group and, it was suggested that many do but some have no desire to, whilst other residents are precluded by the lack of coverage in their area. It was acknowledged that some of the intergenerational work could assist in improving digital skills, with younger assisting older.
The Area Manager went on to provide an update on the performance of other services funded by the Area Council.
Overall performance was positive, with 9 activities undertaken with businesses to make the area clean and tidy, and 60 young people making a positive contribution to their local environment.
The value of volunteering equated to around £18,000 within the quarter, with 102 opportunities provided and 222 adult volunteers engaged, of which 49 were new volunteers. 49 community groups had also been supported.
88 residents had received advice and support through services provided by Age UK, DIAL and CAB.
15 Young people had been involved in volunteering, and there had been 25 activities involving young people. It was noted that only Penistone FM directly supported young people, and therefore this may be an area Members would like to focus delivery on in the future.
Performance against the contract delivered by Twiggs Grounds Maintenance was positive, with progress being made to engage businesses, parish councils and a number of different groups around the area. Significant support had been given to Team Green Moor as part of preparations for Britain in Bloom, and events such as Armed Forces day had also been supported.
There had been a number of bench renovations around the area, with plans to develop some to have signs indicating that people are ‘happy to chat’ if sat there, and which also advertised Happy Café in Penistone
Following the presentation by Age UK, it was noted that 34 volunteers had been engaged within the quarter and 416 interventions undertaken. Members noted the advice service complemented the work of DIAL and CAB.
With regards to the advice service delivered by DIAL, 13 sessions had been held within the quarter, with 56 residents accessing the service. Benefit gain was in the region of £95,000.
It was noted that the project delivered by Penistone FM ends in September, 2019. Though numbers were not high, the quality of experience and the value of qualifications were noted. The links in to the industry and the value of young people finding out about the wider community were also acknowledged.
Members heard how the South Pennine Community Transport service continues to be well used with 265 passengers per week against a target of 120. The Area Council only now funds 47% of the costs of the service, and work is ongoing to further develop the service and extend the reach.
Members noted plans to work towards more integrated transport for Penistone, and it was suggested that the bus could also be used for consultation to inform the Age Friendly Penistone Plan.
(i) That thanks be given for the presenters attending;
(ii) That the Performance Report be noted;
(iii) That details of the events/activities organised by Age UK be circulated to Members.