Alisa has been the Manager at OPAL (Older Peoples’ Action in the Locality) since 2004, and shares the story of one Saturday in lockdown when she picked up the phone after an elderly woman had been referred by the local council for a food parcel.
Key Fund support enabled OPAL to move to the new premises in 2017, and for the space to become usable and start generating income. With three investments in total, the last tranche for £50k in 2020, completed the interior.
OPAL (Older Peoples’ Action in the Locality) gives direct support to 700 people. Partnering with local schools to create volunteer opportunities for young people, its services aim to tackle a wide range of health and well-being issues within the elderly community.
With cramped offices and a three-month notice on the lease, OPAL decided to embed certainty into their future by fundraising to buy a derelict pub, The Bedford Arms in North Leeds, and renovate it for their ‘Welcome In Community Centre’.
As a lot of the information about Covid was online, many elderly people didn’t have access to relevant information. So, working together with local groups, churches and councillors, we delivered 1300 leaflets across the community to signpost the support we were offering.
Since many of our team of 100 volunteers were over 60 years old and considered at-risk, we worked with Voluntary Action Leeds to recruit 200 new volunteers. All 700 elderly members were phoned to check in for support needs, many matched with a phone buddy to receive regular calls. It was crucial as there were vulnerable people left without access to food; with the internet they couldn’t secure an online shopping slot!