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Isolated older men in Stoke-on-Trent to be offered new services thanks to MCF funding

Matt Ford and volunteers

Older men in Stoke-on-Trent who are experiencing loneliness and isolation are going to benefit from new services just for them, following a £74,000 grant to Father Hudson’s Care from the Masonic Charitable Foundation (MCF).

Because of the grant, Father Hudson’s Care can expand its Young at Heart project and develop a new scheme that will reach out to isolated older men. The project will help them feel less lonely, grow their social networks, be more active, get involved in the community and find their purpose again.

Men will have a wide choice of activities, such as metalworking, pottery-making, woodwork and growing food on the project’s new allotment. There will also be volunteer roles such as chef, gardener, treasurer, mentor and befriender.

Research shows that loneliness is as harmful as smoking fifteen cigarettes a day. People who are lonely are more likely to develop dementia, heart disease or suffer a stroke. They’re also more likely to suffer with depression or commit suicide. Stoke-on-Trent has the highest male suicide rate in the West Midlands region and the fifth highest in the country. Reducing depression that comes with isolation is a key aim of the new project.

Drawing on the city’s industrial heritage, the new project will offer activities that have a goal in mind and that encourage men to use their skills to benefit the project and their wider community. The project will offer both workshop-based and outdoor activities. It will have its own allotment where men can grow vegetables for the lunch clubs offered by Young at Heart. And it will offer social groups, with guest speakers and the opportunity to learn new skills.

Men can take part by joining in with activities, attending a social group and volunteering with the project. Volunteer opportunities will include marketing, treasurer roles, gardening, booking guest speakers for meetings, delivering food from the allotment to lunch clubs, and driving. Men will be active contributors, making the project what they need it to be.Staffordshire MCF YAH

The grant from MCF, which is funded by Freemasons, their families and friends, from across England and Wales, comes thanks to the support of Staffordshire Freemasons. John Lockley, Provincial Grand Master for Staffordshire Freemasons, said:

“We’re very pleased to be able to help Father Hudson’s Care, which is doing very important work with older men, a group with many problems that are often ignored in our society. As a fraternal organisation for men, we’re especially keen to be able to help with the Young at Heart project and look forward to making a real difference in Stoke-on-Trent.”

The project co-ordinator at the Young at Heart project said the generous grant “will allow us to make a big difference to older men in our community. It’s mostly women that come to social groups, so men often feel that the groups are only for women. Getting men involved can be a real challenge – they won’t admit they’re lonely and they won’t ask for help. They might be depressed but feel like they can’t show it. We want to do something about it.”

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