Our journey through the calendar year brings us anniversaries, events, important milestones and themed monthly celebrations in honour of worthy and vital issues.
We find ourselves now in Autumn – a season traditionally associated with advancing years and one which inspired our name, Autumn Voices. It’s also September, a month often connected with growing older. In Japan, a country noted for its positive societal attitudes towards its older citizens, Respect for the Aged Day is celebrated as a national holiday on the third Monday of September annually. September is also Healthy Ageing Month in the USA. Here in the UK, we recognise issues affecting older people by honouring Alzheimer’s Awareness Month and we also mark Pension Awareness Week. The United Nations’ International Day of Older Persons sneaks in at the very end of this, on October 1st, so there’s plenty to highlight the issues of growing older and how we can try to do that as well as possible.
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September also plays host to two other themes we feel are important to older people. Firstly, September 5th is International Day of Charity. With so many national and global charities working to protect, support and nourish older people, this is a significant day to honour. Secondly, September is Oddfellows Friendship Month, reminding us to celebrate the power of friendship and the nurturing role it can play in later life.
This brings us to Food Train, a Scottish Charity working to support older people to eat well, live well and age well. Since starting in 1995, Food Train has grown from a local grocery delivery service for older people throughout Dumfries and Galloway, into a national organisation operating throughout Scotland, delivering a broad range of services connecting older people and supporting their independence. These services include not just grocery deliveries, but meal sharing programmes, befriending, social activities and library services.
In July 2022, Food Train realised a 27-year long ambition, and opened the doors to its own newly secured premises in Dumfries.
These premises aren’t just a permanent local and national staff headquarters for the charity. They’re also a community hub for local older people. While many are still understandably cautious about being in social settings due to Covid, others are ready to get back into the swing of things and meet up with people. Those who feel able to will be delighted with Food Train’s new, fit-for-purpose hub, for people aged 65 and over to meet up, have a cuppa and a bite to eat while enjoying each other’s company.
It’s the perfect accompaniment to the charity’s Food Train Friends programme, which has been connecting Food Train customers with trained volunteers for several years, and which provides events and activities for older people to take part in. This includes days out in the local area, cultural experiences and workshops done in partnership with community-based initiatives.
As Food Train settles into its new home, we applaud the vital work it does to support older people to live well, maintain nurturing connections and friendships, and age creatively. In this month of celebrating friendship, charity and older people, we wish them a long and successful future.