New program aims to help Anglo seniors living in social isolation

It's estimated that that there are around 250,000 English-speaking senior citizens in Quebec, and about five per cent could be isolated socially. Seniors Action Quebec hopes to reach them with its new program.

Getting to Programs and Services for Seniors, or GPS, will provide contact, information on services

The president of Seniors Action Quebec. Michael Udy, estimates that five per cent of the roughly 250,000 anglophone seniors across Quebec are living in social isolation.

A senior citizens group in Quebec is trying to reach out to aging anglophones in the province who are socially isolated.

Seniors Action Quebec launched the program Getting to Programs and Services for Seniors, or GPS, on Friday.

The group wants to recruit volunteers to provide isolated seniors with social contact and information on services.

"These volunteers become experts ... on what is available," said the organization's president, Michael Udy.

"The volunteers will be supported to know more, so when they talk to a senior and they learn that this, that or the other thing is an important issue for them, they have ideas of where to direct them."

Udy estimates there are about 250,000 anglophone seniors living in Quebec, and about five per cent could be socially isolated.

He said often that's the case because so many children of anglophones have left the province.

"The number of people left to give them social support is depleted that way," he said.

Black Anglos face further challenges

There are four community organizations collaborating with the GPS program so far, three of them in eastern Quebec.

The fourth is a Montreal-based group called the African Canadian Development and Prevention Network.

Network director Tanya Callender said seniors in the black community hesitate to use the services that are available to them, especially in the health system.

"It's really like a big institution, a lot of people are not comfortable," said Callender.

"[There's] also discrimination. Language is often an issue. So people are hesitant to access the services."

Seniors Action Quebec will hold a symposium next year to discuss the results of the project.