The Older People’s Advocacy Alliance (OPAAL) and the National Coalition of Advocacy Schemes have been undertaking a modest piece of research to identify some of the most disempowering aspects of the Coronavirus restrictions since March 2020 for older people.  Questions that the research will be exploring will include:

  • How many people (informal advocates) found that the blanket recommendation that everyone over 70 should lock themselves away prevented them from playing any positive role in caring for others in their community?
  • How were they able to work around this – non direct contact etc?
  • What were/are the experiences of families and friends who were/are prevented from visiting their loved ones indefinitely? How negative an impact has their absence had on the mental and physical well-being of their loved ones?
  • Was there any effort to provide care homes with the support and equipment that would make visiting safe?
  • What efforts were made by care homes to involve families and friends as much as possible during the lockdown via telephone, video etc?
  • In which ways has the role of care staff both in residential care and at home care changed during the crisis?
  • What was the impact on people of knowing that their loved ones were enduring lonely deaths in hospital and care homes?

The researcher has been interviewing a range of people from across a geographical spread. These include some care home managers; relatives; pastoral workers; befrienders; hair and beauty workers, informal advocates and people living in care or supported living situations.

If you would like to be involved in the research, please contact us at


The Coalition's 18th national Assembly was held via Zoom on 15th December. The main subject for discussion was the role that informal advocacy would play in the period following the Covid 19 crisis. The Coalition is currently working in partnership with the Older People's Advocacy Alliance (OPAAL) on a piece of research around the experiences of older people during this past year.

Caring Cooks Project - Sandwell Advocacy

In October 2018, we at Sandwell Advocacy were successful in a bid to The Peoples Postcode Lottery for the Caring Cooks project.  This application came about as a result of comments made at one of the Young Carers Forums.  We were talking about the future of Sandwell as part of Sandwell 20/30 Vision and a number of the young carers expressed their concerns about the lack of homeless shelters and the increasing number of Food Banks and the need for both.  One family have needed to use their local foodbank and the young carer asked us “What do you do with pilchards?”  A simple question which resonated with us.  “What do you do with pilchards?”  We then started to talk about other tinned food given out by the Food Banks and asked if they knew how to cook with these ingredients.  It soon became apparent that the young carers didn’t have a vast knowledge of making meals from scratch and so the Caring Cooks application was conceived.

This year long project sets out to teach the young carers how to make healthy meals from scratch using food bank ingredients ensuring they maintain the correct levels of hygiene in the home as well as staying safe around the kitchen.  During Autumn and Spring we visited Salop Drive Market Gardens where they made pumpkin lanterns for Halloween, cooked butternut squash soup and planted crops ready for the summer ahead.  During one such visit they also had a session of Basic Food Hygiene from First Response Trainers.

All of the work on this project has been filmed, recorded and photographed and is available online.  Reel Access have delivered a number of sessions where the young carers have learned all of these skills and they are now confident with using cameras and audio equipment as well as editing photographs and short clips. These films together with a digital toolkit are available on our very own YouTube channel.   A key part of the project was to equip them with the skills to use media as a way of introducing them to the Arts and alongside The Peoples Postcode Lottery was another smaller project funded by Creative Black Country whereby we had the support of an Arts Advisor from Blue & White Creative and funds to take the young carers to places they wouldn’t normally have visited and provide activities they wouldn’t normally participate in.  This included a live performance by Circus Berzercus at our 25th Anniversary event, a family day trip to Compton Verney and a session of fabric manipulation courtesy of Infamous Arts. We also had a day out at the BBC Good Food Show where we met Ainsley Harriet and watched Nadiya Hussain cooking in the main theatre.  The young people were fascinated by all of the gadgets available and they really enjoyed sampling all of the different types of food on offer.

We are really excited about this project as we have already seen so many benefits including the young people tasting different foods, being creative in the kitchen at home, adapting new recipes and showing ingenuity when they don’t have all the ingredients they need.  Have a look at our website for all the latest news from this exciting project.