GoodGym: Isolated older people get support in their homes thanks to London Freemasons

Hundreds of lonely and isolated older people, many of whom are confined to their homes, will receive practical help and support from volunteer runners, walkers and cyclists, thanks to a grant of £20,000 from London Freemasons to the GoodGym charity.


GoodGym is a community of people who get fit by doing good, operating across London and in 61 areas of England and Wales. Members run, walk and cycle to either support community projects, or help older people with practical tasks and social visits.

The organisation matches trained, DBS-checked volunteers with a local older person for regular social visits or practical tasks around the home. The many services offered by GoodGym volunteers include collecting prescriptions, doing food shopping, changing lightbulbs and smoke alarm batteries, clearing gardens to make sure they are safe and technical support such as setting up video calls and other online activities.

Most GoodGym volunteers are aged 25-35, and the charity considers the fostering of intergenerational relationships to be important. The average age of the people GoodGym help with this service is currently 83, but is open to anyone aged over 50 who has an identified need. Referrals come from a huge range of partners including other charities like Age UK, NHS services, and other local voluntary services in each area. Most live alone, which increases the risk of both isolation and loneliness, but also hospitalisation resulting from trips and falls.

GoodGym has a wide reach and strong user base, which will enable it to extend and develop this service for an additional 400 older people across England and Wales thanks to the Freemasons’ grant.

An independent evaluation of GoodGym’s work published in 2021 found that volunteers have a direct, positive impact on the older people they visit, with 98% saying that interaction with their volunteer made them feel happier. Beneficiaries showed a 28% improvement in life satisfaction, and 87% said that they considered their match as a friend.

Edith, from Islington, who has been visited by a GoodGymer called Aidan for 8 years, says: “Aidan always comes without fail. I have a very special bond with him. He always comes on a Monday after work and we have a lovely chat. He’s very clever – just the other day there was something wrong with my mechanical chair; the remote control wasn’t working. He had a look at the lead and immediately fixed it. There are so many good people with GoodGym, they are so friendly and helpful and bring so much happiness to me.”

The grant from London Freemasons comes through the Masonic Charitable Foundation, which is funded by Freemasons, their families and friends, from across England and Wales.

Ivo Gormley, Founder and CEO of GoodGym, says, “No one should be left alone, and there are often few options available for those who are older and housebound. We’re very grateful to London Freemasons for their generous grant which will allow us to connect with hundreds more isolated and lonely older people. GoodGymers have supported and connected with older people across the country while getting fit and making great friendships along the way. Everyone benefits.”

London Freemasons say, “We’re delighted we’ve been able to help GoodGym with their excellent project to help isolated older people in London and across the country. Not only do they get the help they need, but they also get company in a world where so many older people live alone and do not have a meaningful conversation with another human being, sometimes for weeks at a time.”

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