Shopping club launched for upper dale's older folk
By Stuart Laundy - Senior Reporter
A NEW shopping club to take older people from the upper dale to the stores at St Helen Auckland has been launched.
The monthly venture has been organised by Age UK County Durham and Utass (Upper Teesdale Agricultural Support Services) and is the latest in a network of shopping clubs in the south of the county. Under the scheme, club members will be picked up and dropped off at their homes, with the service using the Utass community minibuses.
To ensure the success of the club, Age UK officials are looking for a volunteer driver, plus a shopping “buddy” to meet and greet people onto the bus and then help them off at home with their shopping.
Andrea Goldie, project development worker with Age UK, said the idea for the club had come from residents.
“About six weeks ago, we had an information event at Utass where people were asked what they would like us to bring to the area and a shopping club was the main thing,” she said.
“We invited people back for an informal chat on how best to run it. The indication is that it will be monthly, on a Friday and to St Helen Auckland. That gives people the option of going to a big supermarket or the M&S Cafe etc.”
Ms Goldie said the scheme may have to rely on one of Utass’ volunteer drivers to begin with but in an ideal world, the club would recruit its own driver to take members shopping once a month.
“We do need a buddy – someone who can help people into the house with their shopping.
“You don’t have to be He-Man – just be able to give a hand with the shopping.”
She said shopping clubs in other areas had proved popular. One operates from the TCR Hub, in Barnard Castle, using the charity’s bus, while another club runs from Evenwood and uses a vehicle from Shildon.
“There is a great social aspect to the shopping clubs as well,” added Ms Goldie.
“For various reasons, a lot of older people can’t drive any more and this gives them the chance not to rely on family. Quite often they don’t want to feel as if they are a burden.
“They get to know the other members of the group and friendships develop. We aim to accommodate as many people as we can,” she said.
As part of the scheme, shopping club members pay a charge to cover the costs of using the minibus.
Anyone interested in becoming a member of the Middleton shopping club, offering their services as a volunteer driver or helping out as a shopping buddy should contact Ms Goldie on 0191 374 6577 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.