The name of the Age UK Scarborough and District charity gives more than a hint that its focus has been aimed at the senior end of society.
But the extreme needs of the pandemic has caused that to change.
As North Yorkshire established a network of community support organisations to ensure everyone in the county got the support then needed through the crisis, Age UK Scarborough and District was chosen alongside Scarborough, Whitby and Ryedale MIND to cover the Scarborough area.
For an organisation that had been looking forwards to launching fresh services around a new building, that caused a radical rethink.
Not only did staff adopt a new approach, but around 140 people signed up as fresh volunteers to help ensure the district’s communities got the help they needed.
Since the pandemic started, Age UK Scarborough and District has helped to address problems such as loneliness and isolation – which already existed but were worsened by lockdown conditions – by introducing contact services to provide human connections for those who would otherwise be marooned alone in their homes.
Services have also included making food deliveries and acting as a food bank, to ensure those affected by poverty or isolation were not left without groceries, while a meal service also helped the vulnerable.
Those services, operating alongside others provided by MIND, were financed through grant cash from the County Council, with staff at the authority able to act quickly to help when Age UK Scarborough and District identified needs within the community.
Although society is now gradually returning to normal, needs still exist and Age UK Scarborough and District is still working to meet them – but just as importantly they aim to learn from the experience and maintain some of the new services for the future.
Age UK Scarborough and District’s Neil Bradbury said: “Before the pandemic, Age UK had just opened a new building and were planning all sorts of services in the building. That had to be put on ice.
“As an organisation we just pivoted and changed what we were doing, to look at what could be done to help all the people of Scarborough.
“Some of it was totally new, though some was familiar – they got stuck in and are still stuck in.
“It started with emergency support, we turned ourselves into a food bank. We were providing emergency support meals for people in isolation and had a befriending service.
“We had a massive influx of volunteers, around 140 people put their names down. There was a massive outpouring from people, asking what they could do to help.”
Through the autumn it is expected more services will be provided through the new building, as intended, but it is likely the face of Age UK in Scarborough will change for the long term.
“Some services are coming to an end, but with others we want to see how we can continue them into the future,” said Neil.
“One thing we want to do is keep volunteers engaged. This has been a once in a lifetime event and it has brought an amazing show of solidarity, with people really wanting to help each other.”