Neighbourhood schemes to tackle social isolation

This morning, on Radio 4, a report was broadcast on the schemes that have been set up for the elderly by local residents (often by those who are over 60 themselves) to help reduce the social isolation. Garforth Neighbourhood Elders Team in Leeds was one of the schemes that was featured- it provides opportunities to get together for elders in that community with anything from dancing lessons to knitting and yoga as well as a one-on-one befriending service. The report told of a 92 year old Alzheimer’s sufferer who has benefited greatly from the service as well as a lady who lost her husband and was on antidepressants; this lady ended up coming off the drugs after attending the sessions.

The team receive over 100 referrals a month from social services. The report claimed that although it’s difficult to know if these schemes are a factor, the number of people needing care at home or residential care in the area of Leeds has reduced significantly.

Norman Lamb MP, Minister for Care and Support, told the programme, ‘We all need to be more creative about how we help elderly people and the chronically lonely, to feel more a part of society’.

Some other projects we have heard of recently to reduce social isolation are the Big Lunch by the Eden Project – with the aim of getting as many people across the UK to have lunch with their neighbours, The Living Well Project in Worcester who targets those over 50 who have little or no contact with the community or local services and ROAR in Scotland whose aim is ‘to improve health and well being and reduce the impact of social isolation amongst older adults in Renfrewshire’.

Schemes such as these are the reason why we continue to promote our Friendly Places Pledge.

We believe that faith based organisations and places of worship play a pivotal part in providing a safe and welcoming environment for those who are suffering from poor mental health. Social isolation and loneliness all contribute to that but often faith based groups are already providing ways and means of improving well being- through mother and toddler groups, English classes and even keep fit classes.

Please join with us and sign the Friendly Places Pledge today and show how important the role of faith groups is in reducing social isolation.


Further reading:

IPPR- ‘Generation Strain’

IRRIS- ‘Preventing Loneliness and Isolation in Older People

 (Photo credit Mario Mancuso- used under creative commons license)