AN OLYMPIC-themed event with a difference in Moray will promote a social inclusion service for older people with a visual or hearing impairment.
The NESS Oldympics will include welly-wanging, giant skittles and hoopla among its main events.
The fun gathering is being organised by Kirsty Williams, community inclusion co-ordinator with North East Sensory Services (NESS).
Earlier this year the organisation secured £283,970 from the Big Lottery Fund over the next three years to roll out a Connect Inform Support service across Moray and Aberdeen.
The aim is to provide support for those aged over 65 with a sensory loss who live in sheltered housing or their own home.
The new project follows on from a very successful one-to-one befriending service run locally which paired volunteers with older people.
While still offering one-to-one support either face to face or over the telephone, the new service will go much further and offer wider support through a network of caring and well trained volunteers.
That could see volunteers help older people access local social and leisure facilities or attend group outings; provide support to attend appointments; help with reading and correspondence, or offer general emotional support and a listening ear.
"This is designed to encourage and support people over 65 to live independently in their own homes for as long as possible," said Kirsty.
"It is not just about what we will provide with the project, but about supporting people to access groups and projects in their own communities."
Many older people can experience social isolation, particularly if they don’t have family nearby, and if they have a visual or hearing impairment, that isolation can be exacerbated.
Already, NESS in Moray has 52 people signed up to the Connect Inform Support project, and the aim is that between Aberdeen and Moray, more than 300 people will be helped.
From its base at Elizabeth House in Elgin, NESS already provides a range of help groups and social events, and also provides support to visual impairment groups in Elgin, Buckie and Keith.
It also stages information events, such as a talk last week by the Moray Therapets Service.
The new Connect Inform Support service will be unable to function properly without enough volunteers to support the clients.
The service will provide invaluable support to older people, allowing them to function in their local community.
The emphasis is very much on having fun at the same time and the NESS Oldympics is designed to do just that.
"The aim of the day is just to have a lot of fun and allow clients to meet each other."
The event will take place at the Holy Trinity Church Hall in Elgin from 2-4pm on August 7.
Anyone keen to attend the fun session can contact NESS on 08452 712345. Would-be volunteers are also encouraged to contact the service on the same number or call at the NESS office at Elizabeth House – formerly the Victoria Medical Centre – in Elgin to find out more.