Age UK Cheshire East has launched a timely new project to raise older people's awareness of scams and doorstep crime, at a time when there are people out there trying to take advantage of older people during the COVID-19 outbreak.
This two year project, operates in the northern part of the Cheshire East borough, which includes the towns of Macclesfield, Congleton, Wilmslow, Alderley Edge, Poynton and Knutsford.
On the official launch of the project, done virtually due to the current pandemic, Project Manager, Sally Wilson says "This project couldn't come at a more important time. Since the project started just a few weeks ago, we have already alerted our social media followers to many virus related scams. These include offers of home testing kits, doorstep callers posing as charity workers and scam texts pretending to offer refunds from local councils or HMRC – all are scams and all look to exploit vulnerable older people at this particularly difficult time."
The project has two closely linked elements – awareness and aftercare.
The team will be delivering sessions to groups of older people, and those who work with them, to raise awareness of all types of scams, how to avoid them and how to report them. Bulletins, social media and other virtual means will be used to deliver the sessions and provide information, to overcome the additional difficulties that groups are not meeting face to face at this time.
A Scams Awareness Bulletin has already been published, and is available on the Age UK Cheshire East website. As the project develops, they hope to build a network of volunteers across the northern part of the borough to deliver awareness sessions face to face to groups which support older people.
The project will also deliver one to one and group support to older people who have been victims of scams, either remotely online or by phone. Being scammed can seriously affect a person's quality of life and wellbeing, as victims experience anxiety, embarrassment and depression, leading to social isolation and a decline in their health.
Cheshire East Council's Trading Standards will refer victims to the project who would benefit from such support to build their confidence and re-engage in the community.
The project, which is funded by The National Lottery's Community Fund and the Garfield Weston Foundation, has attracted the support of MP Esther McVey MP.
Speaking to the project's manager recently, Ms McVey said "Scams cause great harm and distress to my constituents in Tatton, which is why I'm so pleased to support Age UK Cheshire East's older persons' scams awareness project."
If you would like to volunteer on the project or find out how your group could benefit from an awareness session and further information, please email Sally Wilson or call her on 07932 999902.
Photo: Project Manager, Sally Wilson, running the project from home during COVID-19 outbreak.