Just before Christmas, ACCG was featured in an article in the national weekly newspaper The Voice. You can read the article below:
Offering A Helping Hand
Millions of people in Manchester will enjoy time with loved ones this Christmas – but there will also be many elderly people spending it alone. The African Caribbean Care Group aims to make the festive season a happy time for everyone.
Written by Abigail Reid
PASSIONATE: General manager of the ACCG care group, Dorothy Evans, wants Manchester’s elderly black community to be in good company
both at Christmas and all year
FOR most of us, Christmas is about spending time with friends and family – but according to Age UK, for many older people it is just another lonely day.
However in Manchester, the black community is bucking that trend, and one organisation in particular goes the extra mile to ensure that no one is alone unless they choose to be. For the elderly, living on their own at Christmas can feel
like one of the most isolating times of the year.
Care group general manager, Dorothy Evans, claims that it is “very rare for people who use our services to be completely alone on Christmas Day.”’ Offering not only care at Christmas, the African Caribbean Care Group (ACCG) which was established 35 years ago, provides help and support in the black community all year round.
“We set up because we recognised that African-Caribbean people were socially isolated. We aim to be a service that
adapts to the needs of our local community,” said Evans.
With the support of the local authority, the health and social care side of ACCG was initially developed. However, despite the important work that they do helping those in need, ACCG relies mainly on fundraising and income generation to deliver its core services.
They provide a luncheon club, meals on wheels, personal and home care, holistic therapies, a weekly clinic with an
active case management nurse and activities such as dominoes, board games and exercise to keep the mind active.
Evans added: “Predominantly, our meals on wheels service is accessed by people who are disabled and can’t get out.
“So, sometimes that service provides the only source of communication the service user has with anybody during the day.
“The inability to get around in the community is a major barrier for some people, particularly if they are disabled. We have three mini buses and a caddy van, which we use for delivering hot meals.”
HAPPY TIMES: An ACCG service user enjoys his time at the charity’s centre
That contact may bring other issues to light such as illness or a need to be referred to other services, which ultimately
yields benefits for that user. ACCG also offers help to those relatives who undertake a caring role.
“Being a carer can be isolating because they are so focused on caring for others that they have little time to care for
themselves,” Evans said.
“They often don’t receive the benefits that they need. So, we want to provide them with all the help, additional support and information to enable them to continue in their caring role.”
In addition to respite care, there is an advocacy service and advice can be sought on a range of issues such as finance,
housing and benefits. Angela Aitken, whose dad visits the centre daily, said: “Dad was diagnosed with dementia a number of years ago.
“His condition has resulted in him requiring 24-hour care. We want our dad to stay in his own home, and my brother
and I have devised a rota. This is really challenging and we don’t know how we would cope without the intervention
of ACCG. They collect dad from his home each weekday morning using the minibus and when he is there we are confident that he is well cared for.
“He has lunch and refreshments and also accesses a number of services including the chiropodist and optician.
“When dad is there he is amongst people who understand his socio-cultural needs and this is extremely important for us as a family.
“We don’t have to explain to the staff what dad means when he speaks nor do we have to consider whether the food he is given is appropriate for him.”
During the recent spell of adverse weather, ACCG has just received funding to provide a 13-week Stay Warm, Stay Well programme in the borough of Trafford. A Community Engagement Worker has been recruited to visit the elderly in their homes and ensure that they have what they need to remain healthy during the winter months.
“The difficulty we face over Christmas is keeping people well. In January we typically see a drop in the people that come in so it’s important that we are visiting them to understand why they are not coming in. This programme is vital to ensure that we are preventing elderly people from being admitted to hospital over the season,” added Evans.
ACCG has ambitious plans to extend its services and has launched a recruitment drive to find more carers for the new year. “One of our aspirations as an organisation is to own our own building, because that will give us greater flexibility and choice and potentially we could offer a day service.”
However, despite the doors being closed on Christmas Day, the telephone is always manned and help can always be given.
Evans said: “If anyone is aware of someone who needs that support they can contact us on 0161 226 6334. We will definitely be there to support them.”