A SOCIAL enterprise is helping to support older people who may be lonely or vulnerable during lockdown.

Age Connects Cardiff & The Vale, which is part of Age Connects Wales provides people in Wales aged over 50 with the support and services needed to live healthy, active, independent lives.

Marketing and partnership manager Karen Steele said: “We support older people and their families in lots of different ways and have had to adapt in the pandemic.

“Our shopping service has been very busy; we’ve been working on our befriending projects via phone and arranging Zoom calls for care home residents.

“We also offer nail cutting, help with welfare and benefits, work in hospitals and more.

“Isolation is sadly the norm for many older people, and not just a result of coronavirus; for many of the people we help we’re the only person they see.

“During the pandemic, we have been working hard to help with shopping, prescription collections and keeping in touch via telephone during these difficult times.”

The charity is run by volunteers who have dealt with an “unprecedented level of need” during the pandemic.

In 2020, 550 Age Connects volunteers provided support for more than 2,500 vulnerable older across Cardiff & the Vale.

Chef Nikki, who volunteers at Age Connects Cardiff & The Vale, started shopping and “looking out for” brothers Leonard and Ronald at the beginning of lockdown and the trio forming a strong bond.

Nikki said: “I am a chef and was furloughed by the company I work for, Restaurant Associates.

“I felt very lucky to be well looked after by the company and, with extra time on my hands, I decided I needed to give something back.

“I knew that there were a lot of vulnerable older people needing help and support before the pandemic and that this need would no doubt be more so during these difficult times.

“My main clients are Leonard and Ronald, two brothers aged 93 and 86 – and they are incredible! Very charming with a wonderful zest for life and a fabulous sense of humour!

“Leonard served in the Royal Air Force towards the end of World War Two while his brother Ronald was in the Army. Their service is important to them and they both enjoy telling me stories of war times. The stories are endless, and I could listen to them all day!”

She also has a plot on an allotment, which Leonard and Ronald love due to their interest in gardening.

“They have a small garden and I noticed it needed some TLC,” added Nikki.

“Leonard explained that he hasn’t been too good on his feet lately and has been unable to maintain it, so with my help and Leonard’s expertise – while maintaining social distance - we brought it back to life. It is now a peaceful little haven where they can sit outside on their bench and enjoy the flowers.”

Younger brother, Leonard, said: “Seeing Nikki is a real highlight of our week – we look forward to her visits so much. She is so bubbly and down to earth and takes a great interest in the stories we tell of our past.

“We love gardening but find it quite difficult to manage now. Nikki has an allotment and so also shares our gardening passion. She has been so kind in looking after our garden – with our advice and top tips of course.

“It’s made such a difference – we now have a pretty, quiet spot for my brother and I to sit and enjoy. Nikki has been an incredible support and is now a friend. Thank you Nikki.”

For more information about this branch of Age Connects visit ageconnectscardiff.org.uk

If you or someone you know is struggling to do shopping get in touch with Age Connects Cardiff and the Vale.

Their shopping volunteers can deliver to your door, at £5 per delivery. Tel: 07507 416875 for the Vale of Glamorgan.

If you feel you can volunteer some of your time call 029 2240 0030.