Elderly Muslims, many of whom were part of the first wave of Muslim immigrants to Glasgow, grew up at a time when the elderly were more respected, valued and cared for. Modern society has lost some of these values, which has left many of our elders feeling worthless due to having been moved into a residential home and becoming isolated, having a disability or age-related illness or feeling isolated and alone, even when surrounded by family in their own homes.
With assistance from Faith in Community Scotland, we are working on creating a series of services and regular activities which aim to address the isolation and exclusion affecting the elderly and also enhance their status within society.
The first goal was to establish an annual dinner. Efforts were made to reach out and locate the elderly via contacts within mosques, community centres, social work, healthcare, etc. The feedback after the dinner was very positive. The elderly guests were very impressed with the organisation of the event and many wanted it to become a regular event. One thing which was particularly successful was the Tree of Wisdom that gave them an opportunity to write their advice and words of wisdom onto paper leaves which were then attached to a seven-foot canvas, creating a wonderful piece of art. The Tree of Wisdom is still on display within the Elderly Day Care Centre.
A befriending service is running, which involves matching volunteer befrienders to isolated and lonely elderly companions. The service comprises of weekly visits to alleviate their isolation, build confidence and help them reclaim their place within society. In time, we hope to bring them to the mosque, address basic needs and arrange day trips.