LEAH POWELL looks at the work of Age Connects Torfaen during the pandemic as part of our We’re in it Together campaign.

AGE Connects Wales is a social enterprise, made up of six independent organisations, which includes Age Connects Torfaen.

The aim of all Age Connects branches is to provide people in Wales aged 50+ with the support and services needed to live healthy, active, independent lives.

Age Connects Torfaen has been operating for 30 years under the leadership of Angela Reed.

Emma Wootten, the branch’s development coordinator officer, said: “Our aim is to help older people remain independent, safe and secure, and to offer support for their families and carers.

“We offer an array of services to suit all ages; we are a one stop shop.”

Age Connects Torfaen offers help for people 50+ with dementia, benefits, lunches, meals, transport, shopping, house cleaning, trimming nails and more.

Their oldest client is 102 and their youngest is a 17-year-old carer who looks after their mother with dementia.

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Over the festive season Age Connects Torfaen ran a hugely successful Christmas Gift Campaign.

Normally they would host around 30 Christmas parties, but – due to the coronavirus pandemic – these could not go ahead, so the organisation had to adapt.

“We didn’t want anybody feeling forgotten or not having presents,” explained Ms Wootten.

“The community were fantastic and donated selection boxes, scarves, gloves, hampers, and more.

“We had nearly 450 gifts which we delivered to older people and carers right up until Christmas Eve.

“It was so lovely doing doorstop delivery and seeing how happy it made people who thought they’d been forgotten.

“People were thrilled to see other people; it was really good for their mental health,” said Ms Wootten.

“Our centres have been closed but we’re still allowed to carry out home visits, which has been a lifeline and offered families of older people reassurance.

“Support for these vulnerable people is essential. We make sure they’re in a clean environment, with food and stimulation.

“We do meal deliveries to homes and we’ve had so many shopping requests as many people are shielding.”

The organisation also offers help with benefits claims, as people’s situations can change suddenly.

Age Connects Torfaen is also running a dementia project which involves downloading 12 songs to MP3 players which bring back emotional memories to older people with dementia.

This could include songs from their wedding, songs from their childhood, songs they performed when in a band, or anything else, and they can listen along with their carer.

“It’s been a powerful tool and it’s lovely to see these people become animated because they remember,” added Ms Wootten.

“It’s helpful for carers too; if someone with dementia become agitated or aggressive they can give them the MP3 player and it calms them.

“It’s so wonderful and it’s great to learn these people’s fascinating stories.”

This ongoing dementia project has helped around 60 older people so far.

To find out more about Age Connects Torfaen visit ageconnectstorfaen.org

Alternatively, if you’d like to get in touch with Age Connects Torfaen you can call 01495 769264 or e-mail widdershins@ageconnectstorfaen.org

l Turn to page 13 for a full list of services available.