People participate in chair yoga, a Re-engage activity group for older people at The Maurice Jagger Centre, Halifax. 27/04/24

A charity that fights loneliness among older people is moving into Hawick for the first time as the number of people aged 75 and over in the Borders region is forecast to increase by nearly 30%.

Rural areas across the UK are experiencing the fastest growth in older populations and the Borders presents one of the toughest challenges for Re-engage which supports those aged 75 and over who might feel isolated.

Nearly half of retired people in Scotland live in remote or semi-remote areas and one in six of these say they never get out. The Scottish Borders Council predicts that the number of people aged 75 and over in these areas will rise from its current level of 12,000 by just under 30% by 2028.

Re-engage is aiming to help them by setting-up an activity group Hawick but desperately needs volunteer drivers to make this happen.

Esther Lynn, the charity’s Engagement Officer for Scotland, said: “Our existing activity groups have proved that getting out and socialising vastly improves the lives of older people. They look forward to meeting their peers, chatting, doing gentle exercise and generally enjoying themselves. Our big challenge is reaching those older people living in Hawick who are isolated and may feel they have been left behind by society, as well as recruiting volunteers to help give them a lifeline back into society. Around one-third of adults in the rural areas have volunteered in the past and we are appealing to them to come forward. We desperately need drivers who can collect the older people, take them to the venue and return them home. We appreciate long distances might be involved but the scenery is beautiful – and they will be helping improve an older person’s life immeasurably.”

The charity is currently sourcing venues which are easily accessible, bright and warm. In other areas they are using cafes, church halls and sports clubs. Re-engage also plans to set-up activity groups in Coldstream, Cockburnspath, Eyemouth, Galashiels, Innerleithen and Kelso.

If you’d like to volunteer for Re-engage in the Borders please visit the website or call 020 7240 0630.