Older people are “anxious and fearful” about going outside during the pandemic, a leading support group in Northern Ireland has said.
Age NI called for clear messaging telling the elderly and others who are shielding what they can do to keep themselves safe.
Help with shopping and education must remain in place, the charity’s chief executive Linda Robinson added.
She said: “While Age NI welcomes the decision by the Northern Ireland Executive to allow people who are shielding to be able to go outside, we are mindful that this is subject to the reproductive rate of Covid-19 in Northern Ireland.
“It is vital that the decision to ease the restrictions is accompanied by clear messages for older people and others who are shielding on what they can do to keep themselves safe, informed by expert professional advice.
“Current arrangements must also remain in place so that people who are shielding continue to get help with practical aspects of their life, such as shopping and medication.”
She said older people had discussed feeling lonely and isolated, talked about wanting to meet up with friends and to live a full life.
“But many are also anxious and fearful about going outside when a vaccine has yet to be found.
“Age NI calls on the Northern Ireland Executive to reassure people who are shielding that help and support services will be available to support their health and wellbeing as they take their first steps out from lockdown.”
Age NI’s response has been to enlist volunteers and redeploy its team to provide regular chats with those aged over 60.
Ms Robinson added: “Through our conversations we are able to listen to what each person needs, support their family carers and provide reassurance that we are here to support them.
“As chief executive, I too am on the call lines as it is really important that we are here for people who need us, so please call us on 0808 8087575 with any concerns you have.”