They aim to help older people who may be socially isolated or lonely to continue living independently in their own home by setting up groups and events in their communities.
And as well as the more traditional lunch clubs and day trips, groups like The Diamonds have been helping older people to get out, make friends, meet new people and improve their all round health and wellbeing.
Scheme manager Sarah Maidment suggested the idea of cheerleading to the members of her Live at Home group. She said: “We know that seated cheerleading has been used in the past for older people, but as far as we know this is a first – standing, with choreography and steps so there’s the extra fitness and coordination elements.
“The group was supposed to be for people aged 60-70, but we’ve got several members in their 80s now.
“The philosophy is that an active body and mind allows older people to live more fulfilling and independent lives for longer. They feel part of a group, and the laughter is almost continuous in the 90-minute sessions. It’s a fantastic spectacle to see them all so happy and full of life.”
One member who has seen the benefits of the group is Georgina Page, 74. She said: “People think that cheerleading is done by fit, young Americans, and not by older Brits. But they should come along and see us cheer.
“Since starting the class I have found that I can go for longer walks, as cheerleading has helped my fitness levels. I used to do line dancing, but cheerleading is totally different. The social benefits are just as important, as cheerleading has helped me get out and meet new people.”
The Live at Home Schemes support more than 11,000 elderly people across the country to live in their homes and tackle isolation and loneliness. They need volunteers who can help with everything from driving to befriending.
See mha.org.uk/live-home/live-home-near-me/ for more information.
By Jenna Sloan