South Scotland MSP Martin Whitfield has visited Eildon’s Riverside House supported housing development in Peebles to see the Older People Active Lives (OPAL) project in action first-hand.
The OPAL service for the Borders was launched last summer in partnership between charities Eildon Housing Association and Cyrenians.
Cyrenians contacted Mr Whitfield with information about the service and the various local sessions that are being held across the Borders and invited him to attend one to see for himself the difference it is making.
Commenting after his visit, Martin Whitfield MSP said:
“I’m very grateful to Cyrenians and Eildon for inviting me along to see first hand the difference their OPAL Borders service is making to older people’s lives. It was a wonderful visit on so many levels and the service users were a real inspiration. It is a high quality service that I’m delighted to be able to support.”
Amanda Miller, Eildon’s director of community services, said:
“The rural nature of the Scottish Borders served to isolate our tenants even more during the course of the Covid-19 pandemic. Tenants in our supported housing developments and in the surrounding areas were significantly impacted as support and social activities were restricted. This project is designed to help break this isolation and has turned out to be a lifeline for many of our tenants.”
Pauline Moffat from Cyrenians said:
“We’re delighted to welcome Martin to our OPAL Borders service. This is a great opportunity for him to see first-hand what we’re doing to support people age 60+ to build and maintain social connections.
“OPAL delivers valuable services including social activity and learning groups, befriending, community support, events and digital skills. The service launched in August 2022 and has worked with more than 160 people age 60+, providing companionship and support to engage in community activities.”
Currently, there are six popular activity groups running in the Borders and the aim is to connect more people with their neighbours through social activity and learning sessions. More volunteers are being sought to enable the organisations to do this and combat the feelings of loneliness and isolation being felt by older people across the Borders.