New project will help elderly abused Fifers

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A new project to help older people rebuild their lives after suffering abuse is set to launch in Fife.

In a first for Scotland, charity Action on Elder Abuse Scotland, which will run the ‘Elder Abuse Recovery Project’, said the programme staffed by trained volunteers would help dozens of abused older people regain their confidence and independence.

The charity is actively recruiting volunteers of all ages, with a view to launching the project later this spring. It is hoped the Fife project could act as a blueprint for wider rollout across Scotland.

Estimates suggest around 10 per cent of older people experience some form of abuse each year including physical and sexual assaults, financial abuses such as theft, psychological torment, or neglect by people or institutions that should be caring for them.

In Fife, around 7500 people may be suffering from elder abuse each year, although much of this remains hidden because victims may be unwilling or unable to speak out.

The new project is currently recruiting volunteers of all ages, who will receive extensive training in the skills they need to aid an older person’s recovery.

Abuse victims will be matched with volunteers who may themselves have experienced abuse, or have similar hobbies and interests. The structured programme runs for a year and aims to bring about a significant improvement in people’s wellbeing so they can put their experience of abuse behind them and move on with their lives.

Unlike general befriending services, it goes further by focusing on recovery, building resilience, and helping people regain their independence.

Action on Elder Abuse already runs similar projects in England, mostly in the London area.

The project’s launch comes just months after the publication of a draft Scottish Government strategy for tackling loneliness and isolation.

Lesley Carcary, Action on Elder Abuse’s Scotland director, said: “We know that loneliness and isolation are significant factors in why somebody might be a victim of elder abuse, because it can make them vulnerable and an easy target for unscrupulous individuals. It also makes it much harder to recover because these people often don’t have social networks to speak up.”

Anyone interested in volunteering should contact services co-ordinator, Brian Rapley, on 07496 323 801 or visit www.elderabuse.org.uk/in-scotland.