Lonely and isolated people living with high risk of broken bones will receive help and support thanks to Somerset Freemasons
Thousands of lonely and isolated people with osteoporosis, and their families will receive help and support from a dedicated volunteer network, thanks to a grant of £50,000 from Somerset Freemasons to the Royal Osteoporosis Society (ROS).
The grant will help ROS, the UKs leading charity dedicated to osteoporosis and bone health, support their network of Volunteer Support Groups (VSGs) throughout England and Wales. ROS has well-established regional volunteer groups offering local support to those in need. Prior to Covid-19, local groups met entirely face to face, and during the pandemic, many groups were able to meet online, but others struggled with the transition.
Osteoporosis causes bones to lose strength and break more easily. An estimated 3.5 million people in the UK are estimated to have osteoporosis, with half of women likely to develop the condition and one in five men. The condition causes half a million broken bones every year in the UK, costing the NHS over £4.5 billion.
A diagnosis of osteoporosis is life changing, affecting relationships, ability to work, mobility, independence, quality and dignity of life. ROS’s 2021 ‘Life with Osteoporosis’ survey confirmed that 23 per cent suffer five or more fractures, 36 per cent experience long-term pain, 68 per cent are physically affected, 15 per cent do not receive the support needed to live independently and 44 per cent need more help to manage pain. The constant fear of breaking a bone leads to isolation; 33 per cent of those with the condition feel completely alone, 53 per cent of callers to ROS’s Helpline say that they have nowhere else to turn and 48 per cent report a negative impact on their mental health.
The ROS has a free Helpline that is open to everyone. During 2022, the ROS delivered telephone, online or in-person support to people 400,000 times – a new record. The Helpline answers 13,000 enquiries a year, providing support and information for people living with osteoporosis and their family members. The increase in calls has been caused by NHS services struggling to catch up with demand following the COVID-19 pandemic.
2,000 people currently attend VSGs and, thanks to the Freemasons, the project will recruit an additional 1,000 new participants each year who will benefit from peer support and connection with others and feel less isolated and lonely. ROS is also particularly keen to partner with local lodges across England and Wales to raise awareness of osteoporosis amongst men and build community networks.
The grant from Somerset freemasons comes through the Masonic Charitable Foundation, which is funded by freemasons, their families and friends, from across England and Wales.
Craig Jones, Chief Executive from the Royal Osteoporosis Society, said:
“We’re very grateful to Somerset Freemasons for their generous grant which will allow us to reach out to many hundreds of isolated and lonely people with this very difficult condition. Osteoporosis can often reduce independence and make working difficult or impossible, as well as causing great physical pain and deteriorating mental health. Our mission is to show them they are not alone.”
Graham Puddy from Somerset Freemasons, said:
“I’m very pleased we’ve been able to support the Royal Osteoporosis Society with their excellent volunteer programme to help people who have become isolated after developing this terrible disease. More than half of callers to the ROS say they have nowhere else to turn, which shows the crucial importance of this project.”
Adrian, Jamie Grier (ROS Director Of Development), Richard, Phyll Taylor (ROS Support Group Volunteer), Craig Jones (ROS CEO), Graham