FOR Audrey Mutongi, it was the realisation that a chat over a cup of tea was just as important for older people as personal care.

Meanwhile, Pasna Sallis, was beginning to understand that just because we age, we do not have to give up on our sense of adventure…

Audrey and Pasna run The No1 Care Agency and Weekday Wow Factor respectively, two very different social enterprises which have similar aims – to ensure older people and those at risk of social isolation or loneliness get the support they need.

Both have received funding from UnLtd Scotland, which is inviting applications for 2021. Awards from £500 to £15,000 are on offer, alongside a package of one to one and peer support. UnLtd Scotland particularly encourages applications from people who identify as Black, Asian or from a minority ethnic background, and disabled people.

In 2016, Audrey was working as a personal carer while studying for a PhD at Glasgow Caledonian University.

Realising that what older people really needed, besides personal care, was social support and companionship, she came up with the idea for The No.1 Befriending Agency and its sister organisation, The No.1 Care Agency, a bespoke service which offers live-in, overnight and respite care, in Glasgow and further afield.

Both are named after Alexander McCall Smith’s No.1 Ladies’ Detective Agency stories and put the same importance on building friendship over a cup of tea as the characters in the books.

Glasgow Times: Pasna SallisPasna Sallis

Audrey, who received a £15,000 grant, explains: “Our focus is on building relationships between our clients and our carers and creating opportunities for connections and companionship, like having a cup of tea or a meal together. These are small everyday things that make a big difference to people’s lives.”

During her 20 years working for the NHS as an occupational therapist, Pasna Sallis noticed a lack of opportunities for older people to satisfy their adventurous side.

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In 2017, with support and funding from Unltd Scotland, she set up Weekday Wow Factor, a platform for socialising, adventure and exercise for over 50s at risk of loneliness and social isolation in the greater Glasgow area.

Attendees enjoyed the kind of fun usually reserved for younger people, discovering their inner child through activities ranging from daytime discos to trampolining. Pasna’s initial award of £5000 helped her take a group of older people surfing.

Glasgow Times: The Weekday Wow Factor surfersThe Weekday Wow Factor surfers

“Most of them couldn’t swim and many hadn’t been to the seaside in years,” she explains. “When I asked our oldest lady, who is her late 80s, how taking part in our activities had made her feel, she said she felt like a teenager.”

Since the coronavirus outbreak, both women have worked hard to adapt their services. For Weekday Wow Factor, it means reaching more people than ever before through online sessions.

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“People have taken part from as far afield as Newcastle,” says Pasna. “It’s been a challenge but we are all learning together. “

Applications can be made on UnLtd’s website.