The jewel in North Leeds’ crown helping to tackle loneliness and isolation for older people

Preventing loneliness and isolation
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Established in 2002, Older People’s Action in the Locality (OPAL) is at the heart of the social calendar and a real lifeline for many older people living independently in North Leeds. 

With over 25 activities taking place at the centre every week, the team of dedicated staff and volunteers work tirelessly to reduce loneliness and isolation for older people as well as improving the quality of their lives by enabling them to live independently, safely and healthily. 

The Leeds 16 postcode covers an expansive area of the city and there are over 26,000 older people within OPAL’s jurisdiction, many of whom have a physical disability and/or a mental health problem. But OPAL are making a huge impact, with something for everyone, including their extensive offer of classes, lunch clubs and emotional support.

“There are an awful lot of older people that are lonely, bereaved, or just generally have challenges in their day to day lives and OPAL staff and volunteers give those individual older people support. We’re ultimately trying to reach every older person in Leeds 16, some people won’t need our help, but if they do, we want people to know we’re here.”

Ailsa Rhodes Chief Exec at Opal

Each week, OPAL brings older people together, giving them the chance to re-connect and in-doing so improve their social and physical well-being. The centre has allowed over 100 older people to take regular exercise and try new activities including yoga, Tai-chi and table tennis.  

The team at OPAL were also at the frontline in the fight against Covid-19, reacting swiftly to move services online, set up phone buddy schemes, hot-meal delivery services and to provide activities and remote support services to some of the most vulnerable people within their community. OPAL received recovery funding from Power to Change and have managed to continue to provide services and keep in regular contact with all of their members through-out the periods of lockdown.

As they look to the future the team are now concentrating on modernising the property. Having successfully renovated the sunshine room, they are now using further funding from Power to Change to improve the offering in their onsite café. The funds have allowed them to hire a dedicated manager for the space which will in turn enable them to enhance their offering to attract a much wider audience. 

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