18 December 2015

Have you ever wanted to offer help to an elderly person but weren’t sure the best way to go about it?

It can be hard to offer help at times. That’s why Sheffield City Council has produced a new ‘snow your neighbour you care’ card to help kind-hearted people offer help to older people this winter.

Designed to act as an ice-breaker and a way for people to introduce themselves, the card is for people to put their details on and post through an older person’s door, or use to start off a chat. It includes the words: ‘hello my name is’, ‘I live at’, ‘you can contact me by’ and ‘I am happy to help with things like clearing snow, shopping or just having a chat.’

Councillor Mary Lea, cabinet member for health, care and independent living at Sheffield City Council, explained: “People have told us that they would like to do more to help elderly people during the winter. But some are reluctant to knock on someone’s door if they don’t know them – I think they’re frightened that they’d offend them or that the person might not want their help.

“That’s why we designed this card. It’s meant to act as an ice-breaker so someone can use it to introduce themselves and offer help – and in a way that doesn’t place any obligation on the older person. It’s up to them if they take the offer up or not.

“We’ve got real community spirit here in Sheffield and want to help people re-establish the kind of help that was taken for granted 50 years ago, when everyone knew who their neighbours were and helping each other was the norm. We want people to tell us how they get on, and hope the card makes it easier for people to offer help.”

It is estimated there are 177,000 people aged 50 and over living in Sheffield, with more than 16,000 of them experiencing loneliness and social isolation. The new card has been designed to help tackle this, linking with the city’s Age Better in Sheffield project which aims to end loneliness.

Steve Chu, Chief Executive Officer at Age UK Sheffield, said: “Some people need a little extra help during bad weather so it’s great that the council is encouraging residents to do what they can for their neighbours and friends. Age UK Sheffield works with older people all year round to support them to live independently and we can provide lots of ideas of practical things people can do which can be a great help.”

Cards can be picked up from libraries, doctors’ surgeries, council buildings and other public building. It is also available to download online at www.sheffield.gov.uk

During winter weather the council continues to help people who have an ongoing package of care. More than 200 council staff have also volunteered to support 1,800 older people referred into the community support service (a service that provides support to older people referred by their GPs) during prolonged periods of severe weather.

This year the council also has 50 free snow shovels for members of the public to collect from the Town Hall. The aim is to encourage even more residents to play their part this winter if the snowy and icy weather hits. To get a free snow shovel visit the reception at the Town Hall on Pinstone Street. One shovel will be given per person on a first come first served basis.

 

AGE BETTER IN SHEFFIELD:

Age Better in Sheffield is a £6m project which aims to end loneliness in the city. It is being run by South Yorkshire Housing Association with partners including Sheffield City Council. www.agebettersheff.co.uk

NOMINATE YOUR COMMUNITY FRIENDS

The council’s partner – the CCG – is asking to hear from people who know anyone that has been a good ‘community friend’ this winter and has gone above and beyond to look after a neighbour or friend.

They may have helped to grit pavements when ice was forecast, cleared snow, helped with food shopping, collected prescriptions for someone or just made sure an older neighbour was warm and well this winter.

People can be nominated as a ‘community friend’ by visiting www.sheffieldccg.nhs.uk and search ‘community friends’ or email sheccg.comms@nhs.net or call 0114 305 1212.

All of the nominated ‘community friends’ will receive a certificate, as a thank you from their nominee and the NHS, for the input that they’ve had in helping someone maintain their independence, mental and physical health this winter.