St Mark’s is a vibrant community made up of people of all ages, and we greatly value the contribution made by older members. Many are committed to serving the wider community through social action as well as taking on roles in the church itself.

If you enjoy music, crafts, drama, walking, or want to engage with issues of faith you might like to join one of our groups.There are plenty of opportunities for lively discussion and developing friendships over coffee too! But whilst some people like to become very involved, others prefer to stay on the fringes for a variety of reasons – there is no pressure here, and we are simply glad to have you join us when you can.

Churches Together in Broomhill and Broomhall work together to enhance the lives of older people living in our communities through employing Claire Brooks our community worker and offering a range of activities as well as visiting people at home.

Claire’s Annual report for the Churches Together Broomhill and Broomhall (CTBB) Annual General Meeting in May 2020 can be read below –

Annual CTBB Report from Community Worker with Older People

This report has been prepared for the Churches Together Broomhill and Broomhall AGM 2020

I have been the community worker with older people for CTBB for over 4 years and continue to find the work demanding at times, but interesting and varied.

The one to one visits to older isolated people living in the community continue to be the core of my work and can include the support of their family and carers, or indeed involve being the only person an individual can turn to ( to the extent of acting as next of kin for hospital admissions)

The population continues to age, with more people staying longer in their own homes in receipt of a package of support. It has been an important part of my role to assist to set up private care packages by recommending reliable agencies and help with contact and introductory visits. I have also found that I spend increasing amounts of time speaking to agencies directly and liaising with local authority staff about ongoing problems with council provider services. This has been particularly relevant during the Covid 19 crisis when agencies have found themselves under extra pressure due to issues such as reduced staffing levels

Home visits are the most important part of my role and take up the majority of my working week. This work has continued by telephone during the Covid 19 pandemic, with advice often being sought where people feel frightened and isolated or struggle to understand how the government guidelines affect them. It is essential to be able to take the time to listen to individual concerns and then reassure individuals and support them to tackle the issues they have identified. Individual needs can be very varied and range from a quick piece of advice or information to a complex issue that will take a number of weeks to resolve.

It is very rare to do a quick piece of work and then finish support, as many people have no other regular support and will come back again and again for advice and help, or require a regular befriending visit. I always strive to ensure that the people I support are able to retain as much control as possible over the decisions they make, even when they are struggling physically and/or mentally.  My role includes helping individuals to manage their independence and retain their autonomy.

I continue to visit Broomgrove Nursing Home once or twice a week and provide individual time to 4 residents at present. This is an important role providing a visit from outside the regular staff group which allows me to act as an advocate as part of my befriending role. During the Covid 19 crisis I have kept in touch with residents by telephone or correspondence by post.

I also continue to visit 2 individuals who have moved from their homes into residential care at other units outside the immediate Broomhill and Broomhall area. They have no family, or family who live at a distance and are not involved. Maintaining these contacts has been difficult at times due to time constraints, but I now have a volunteer involved in residential visits. Again these contacts are currently maintained by telephone.

I maintain regular contact through individual visits and groups at Sunnybank, Dellside and Lifestyle House.

Sunnybank and Dellside now have regular social groups running with Buzz, which I continue to attend regularly as part of my collaborative working with Buzz at St.  Andrews. These groups are currently suspended, so I keep in touch with individuals and staff at Buzz by telephone and email.

I continue to have a close relationship with St. Marks Church lunch club which I attend regularly and support some of the members on an individual basis, offering advice and support with many issues and providing visits at home. I also escort one of the members to club and back as part of the team on a rota basis. I also assist with outings by providing escort and lifts. During the Covid 19 crisis I continue to keep in touch with lunch club members by telephone and with volunteers who are supporting others in the same way.

I am a member of the Pastoral Care Group at St. Mark’s church, where I regularly attend meetings and keep informed about those members of the congregation that might require some input from me. I also meet regularly with Elizabeth Draper, representing St Andrews and the congregation of Beacon at the coffee mornings, so that I can be updated on any pastoral care issues. Pastoral care continues during the Covid 19 crisis by telephone and Zoom meetings.

I currently have 2 volunteers working with me who each provide a fortnightly visit to a person I have supported long term. This has so far been very beneficial to the people receiving visits but currently on hold as volunteers cannot make face to face visits.

New referrals have dropped slightly this year with no new referrals during the Covid 19 crisis period. I receive referrals via the churches, social care and voluntary agencies, friends and family, but have not managed to improve the numbers from health staff.

I do have contact with the social Services Community Workers, who are all GP linked and are aware of the support I can offer.

I continue to try to raise my profile in Broomhall to give me the opportunity to make contact with older isolated people within that community. Planned visits to other community groups are currently on hold due to the Covid 19 crisis.

In conclusion I hope to further develop the role in the future and continue to work with volunteers. Ideally I would like to recruit a small number of additional volunteers to provide more befriending in the community.