By Tammy Schneider
Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
A new community group is being formed, aimed at reaching out and connecting with seniors who have found themselves isolated during the pandemic.
Instagramps, an adopt-a-grandparent program, is one of many initiatives run through the Be a Light campaign of GBH Strong. Its goal is to connect seniors with local volunteers, by phone, Zoom or whatever their preferred method, as often as the senior wishes.
Arturus Zuta from NPX and the program lead, is part of the team setting up the initiative.
“(The) Instagramps initiative is aimed at combatting loneliness,” said Zuta. “Now, more than ever, a lot of people are feeling isolated and may not have a large social network. The goal of Instagramps is to build genuine friendships and support systems to prevent loneliness in our community.”
The program is not just for seniors living in long term care. It will be available to anyone who, because of the pandemic, finds themselves separated from friends and family and are spending more and more time isolated at home because of health protocols. Zuta said it is for “anyone who needs a social interaction.”
NPX is reaching out through social media, letting the children, grandchildren, friends and neighbours of isolated seniors know how they can register the seniors in their life for the program. The committee has also contacted long term care homes to spread the word among its residents. Zuta can be contacted for more information at Arturas.Zuta@npxinnovation.ca.
Volunteers of all ages and interests are invited to sign up at https://www.gbhstrong.com/instagramps. The prospective volunteer is asked to fill out a short survey, and will be matched with a senior of similar interests. Zuta said high school students who participate can count the time as part of their volunteer hours. Each volunteer will also be asked to submit a vulnerable sector check and sign a code of conduct.