04/02/13 Press Release: Passing on skills. Volunteers sought to help older people.

The Touchstones project is looking for volunteers who have a skill or interest that they can pass on to someone who may be struggling with an everyday task on their own. 

January is a popular time for us all to consider learning something new, or getting involved as a volunteer in the local community. Touchstones is searching for enthusiastic home cooks, ‘silver surfers’ and people who could teach someone a basic DIY task or car maintenance.

When an older person loses a partner they not only lose their lifetime companion but in many cases they also lose the person who has supported them with their day to day living.  In a partnership or marriage daily chores are often shared and so when one partner dies it leaves the other wondering how to manage with all of the jobs their husband or wife previously did. 

For example this could be something as straight forward as changing a light bulb or plug or more complex chores such as cooking a meal or setting up a new email address.  When these issues arise it can make the loss of a partner all the more difficult to deal with.

Craven resident, Maureen, describes coping after her husband died: “when my husband died I didn’t have a clue about the finances, I had to sort all the probate and everything out to start with and this wasn’t easy, then insurances and household stuff.  It was hard especially at such a difficult time after losing him.”

Touchstones aims to bring together single older people and enable them to exchange skills with each other, with the ultimate goal being the creation of local support networks. The project is being run by Rural Action Yorkshire in partnership with Age UK and covers rural areas where access to transport is more limited, around Harrogate, Craven and Wakefield.  The project has been funded by the ‘Silver Dreams Fund from the Big Lottery Fund’ in association with the Daily Mail.


Vanessa White Big Lottery Fund Head of Region for Yorkshire and the Humber said: “We set the challenge to organisations in England to develop innovative projects that would recognise the positive contribution older people make to society today whilst also supporting them through life changes. I’m delighted that they have risen to the challenge to share a slice of Silver Dreams Lottery funding.”

Leah Swain, Chief Officer RAYsaid: “It’s so important that bereaved individuals can benefit from practical support from volunteers in their own rural community. Rural Action Yorkshire and Age UK know how hard it can be when you lose a life partner and find there are many little day to day things you are not confident about because your partner always did them – be it changing a plug, cooking a particular meal or completing online orders. We are committed to being there to help teach those new skills and give a confident boost so people feel that will be able to manage on their own.”


Anyone interested in volunteering should contact 0845 313 0270 or visit www.ruralyorkshire.org.uk for more information.  Volunteers need to be over fifty and ideally based in the Harrogate, Craven, or Wakefield areas.  Touchstones will be holding local information events and full support will be given to all volunteers. [ENDS]


Editor’s notes

To arrange an interview, or for images, please contact Rebecca Craven on 0845 313 0270.

Rural Action Yorkshire

Based at Askham Bryan, near York, RAY is one of 37 Rural Community Councils in England.  It isan independent charitable and voluntary organisation working across rural areas of North, South and West Yorkshire and the City of York, to help communities improve the quality of life for all people living and working in rural Yorkshire. Key work includes:

* Providing advice and grant support for sustainable multi-use community buildings, which can act as a focal point for village services

* Helping local communities carry out community led plans, which identify the strengths and weaknesses of village life and plan how the local community sees future development taking place

RAY and the other rural community councils in England form the Rural Community Action Network (RCAN).

Find Rural Action Yorkshire online at www.ruralyorkshire.org.ukand twitter.com/ruralyorkshire, facebook.com/ruralactionyorkshire


Touchstones runs from September 2012 until February 2014 and is funded by the Big Lottery and the Daily Mail.  It supports bereaved older people who have lost a partner.

For the latest project updates, read the blog on RAY’s website, or follow @RAYTouchstones