The Scottish Government is helping the charity’s helpline workers work from home and increase capacity to combat heightened loneliness among the elderly during the coronavirus outbreak.
Age Scotland’s helpline has received £80,000 from the Scottish Government to help the charity use technology to operate the service via home working and boost its reach during the coronavirus pandemic.
This is on top of the £140,000 a year the Scottish Government already provides for the helpline.
The extra money will cover equipment and technology needed to allow helpline staff to work from home. It has also been handed to the charity to increase its capacity more than ten fold, from 100 calls a day to around 1,500.
Earlier this week Charity Digital looked at why remote working is the right fit for charities and their work to support beneficiaries.
The move has been taken as part of a £350m package of measures released by the Scottish Government to tackle the coronavirus pandemic.
“This is a concerning time for many older people and it is important that they have access to the most up to date, and trustworthy, information and advice as Scotland adapts to COVID-19,” said Brian Sloan, Age Scotland’s Chief Executive.
“We are delighted that the Scottish Government are making a further investment in the Age Scotland Helpline so that we can scale up our efforts to provide information, friendship and advice to older people, their families and carers at this critical time.
“This will also help us increase the number of friendship calls we make to older people across Scotland who may have no one else to talk to as they socially distance themselves, providing them reassurance and a friendly chat.”
First minister Nicola Sturgeon added: “In these challenging times, when we are faced with a pandemic to which older people are especially vulnerable, Age Scotland’s helpline is providing an invaluable service.
“As older people are advised to reduce their social contacts to protect themselves from COVID-19, the staff here in Edinburgh are a lifeline to those seeking practical advice or just a friendly chat.
“I am delighted that with this extra funding, the Scottish Government will help make this service available to many more people.”
Tackling social isolation
The helpline is currently available Monday to Friday 9-5pm and covers issues around local support, benefit entitlements, care rights, housing, heating and legal issues. It is expected to be particularly busy dealing with concerns around social isolation from the elderly during the pandemic.
The helpline team is also available via email and the service includes a dedicated social isolation and loneliness feature called Community Connecting Service.