New project to help older people in Dorset launched by Age UK

A new initiative aimed at creating a safer environment for older people in Verwood and Dorset has been launched by charity Age UK North South & West Dorset.

It has been made possible thanks to support from the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner (OPCC).

The OPCC has commissioned the charity for the project which will reach and support older people in our county through education, support, collaboration with health services and sharing of key information. This will include a focus on digital safety and security at home.

Around one-third of Dorset’s population is over the age of 65, with nearly half of those people living in rural areas. This often results in isolation which can lead to people becoming more vulnerable and susceptible to online crimes and scams.

The Older Safer project aims to reach and support people in rural areas, through a variety of measures including community outreach, awareness campaigns and combined working with local health services.

The initiative, which the OPCC is supporting with £20,000 of funding, will focus on three key parts: Secure Seniors, to increase digital resilience in older people; Safe Ageing, providing a support network to tackle social isolation; and Safe at Home, to enhance safety in the home.

Each participant will undergo an initial assessment to determine specific needs, concerns, and their digital abilities in order to tailor support to individual requirements.

As well as digital safety and scam awareness workshops which are customised to the knowledge and skillsets of the people involved, ongoing overall support will also be provided, with regular contact maintained to address questions, and help issued through phone calls, in person meetings or emails, depending on what the person prefers.

A range of resources including online materials and handouts will be available, with user-friendly formats and easy to understand language.

Dorset Police and Crime Commissioner, David Sidwick said: “I want to ensure Dorset’s residents are protected from crime and feel safe and secure as they get older. Whether that is through education and awareness of the despicable tactics of scammers and fraudsters, via small safety measures they can take in their homes or through increased contact and community support, anything we can do to help people feel safer is vitally important.

“Equipping our older generation with knowledge, support and a sense of community will be key to tackling the vulnerability often associated with getting older and is a project I fully support.

“This initiative will not only enable older people to increase their resilience and confidence generally but will help more people to stay safe online and in their own homes and living spaces.”

Terri Lewis, chief officer for Age UK Dorset, said: “Through our well-established networks, we are poised to make a tangible difference in the lives of older adults across our county.

“Our focus extends beyond just providing support; we aim to create a vibrant community where seniors feel valued, connected, and safe.

“By addressing social isolation head-on and empowering individuals with the tools to navigate the digital world securely, we’re fostering an environment where growing older should be something to be enjoyed rather than feared.

“We are immensely grateful for the support from the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner, whose partnership enables us to turn this vision into reality.”

The Older Safer initiative will initially continue for one year, with the opportunity to extend following a review.

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