Catholic charities pilot new support for parishes serving older people

As part of a new Catholic national pathfinder project, four Catholic charities working with Caritas Social Action Network have committed to support parishes in enabling local elderly people to have more of the social connections they would like.

People in England and Wales are on average living longer than ever.  Older people have many skills and experiences, and many want to have more social contacts.  But often they find themselves isolated, for example following bereavement, or because of reduced mobility.   Many parishes are doing great work in befriending and organising activities with older people, or want to do so, and would welcome more support.

The four charities are focusing on isolation among older people in the following areas: Caritas Diocese of Salford in Greater Manchester; Catholic Care (Diocese of Leeds) in Keighley and Skipton; Father Hudson’s Care in Worcestershire, and the Society of St Vincent de Paul (England and Wales) in Brighton.  Their shared aim is to help more Catholics to live out their faith, by supporting at least 160 volunteers aged over 16: to become more confident in their social action, to be grounded in Catholic social teaching, and to operate safely and with sensitivity.  The charities intend to enable at least 800 older people to have more of the social contacts they want over the next two years, and to sustain these contacts in the long term.

With support from Caritas Social Action Network’s national team in London, learning from local activities will be distilled into key messages for parishes, the wider Church, and policy makers.  This collaboration is the first of its kind within the Caritas network in England and Wales.