On the 26th May the Masonic Charitable Foundation (MCF) announced the approval of two new grants for Somerset charities. This takes the total MCF grants to Somerset charities to well over £100,000 for the first five months of this year.
Somerset Sight – Taunton will receive £15,000 over 3 years
Somerset Sight supports people living with a visual impairment, helping them to live fuller and more independent lives. They work across Somerset and the borders of Devon and Dorset; and their Mobile Advisory Service reaches the most rurally isolated towns and villages. 80% of service users are over 75 years old and more than 30% live alone. Sight loss is isolating and debilitating, with many people anxious about leaving their homes and unable to access mainstream support services.
They provide a range of services to improve wellbeing and quality of life, such as befriending visits; visual impairment aids like talking books and liquid level indicators to prevent scalding from hot drinks; structured courses such as “Seeing Life Differently” to help adjust to life with a visual impairment; emotional support groups; accessible activities like cooking classes and days out to the seaside and bird sanctuaries. They are one of the leading visual impairment charities in Somerset and very well connected to local hospitals and GP clinics which demonstrates the high quality of their work.
They have 3,000 service users and demand for their services is increasing. The MCF grant will enable them to expand their services and reach more people in need of support. Feedback from service users and healthcare professionals shows how much of a lifeline they are. “The emotional support has been a blessing for me…my sense of positivity is the biggest change”. Somerset Sight web site
Goldies Sing&Smile – Radstock will receive £15,000 over 3 years
The Golden-Oldies Charity, established in 2008 and known as “Goldies”, delivers fun, daytime social Sing&Smile community groups, supporting physical health, wellbeing and independent living by combating loneliness and isolation. The majority of attendees live alone or care for a loved one, many attendees have early onset Dementia or Alzheimers, many have poor mental health and physical ailments, often experiencing depression and grief. The social sing-along sessions are open to all, but particularly aim to support older vulnerable people by bringing them together for fun and friendship.
There are currently 125 monthly Sing&Smile groups running in England and Wales with new groups starting every month. Singing along to hits of the 50s onwards, taking part in chair- based movement to music activities and dancing, Goldies helps to build stronger, more resilient communities of people supporting each other through loneliness. Sessions run for an hour with extra time for a cuppa and chat, some of the most popular sessions have been running since the charity launched in 2007. The charity also provides Christmas parties, Age Awareness days & a National Lottery Award winning intergenerational programme.
Goldies reaches an average of 1840 attendees every month. Singing, socialising and having opportunities to create supportive relationships has a proven impact on well-being and supports those with poor mental health and bereavement to continue to live independently.
A short questionnaire completed in January 2023 showed that attending Goldies had a positive impact on mental health: 90% of attendees agreed that Goldies made them feel part of their community and 88% agreed that attending Goldies made them feel less anxious/more confident. A Somerset attendee described how “After losing my husband, it took Goldies to get me out of my depression. It makes so much difference to me. I get to meet people, chat, laugh, dance, sing and it’s so enjoyable.”