In 2015 the British Red Cross and Co-op launched a partnership to tackle loneliness across the UK. Their Trapped in a Bubble report investigated the triggers for loneliness in the UK and found that it does not just affect the elderly.
Many other groups in society, from young mums to those with health or mobility issues are at increased risk of loneliness and social isolation. Life transitions can also be key triggers for loneliness, such as retirement, divorce or separation, children leaving home or bereavement.
Without support, loneliness can transition from a temporary situation to a chronic issue and can contribute to poor health and wellbeing.
With this understanding, the Connecting Communities service, provided in partnership with Co-op, has been running to offer tailored support to those feeling lonely or socially isolated in York. To date more than 80 people in the city have received intensive, one-to-one support.
The service is open to adults of any age experiencing loneliness or social isolation. People can self-refer or be referred by a GP, hospital or other statutory service, by another charity or by a friend or relative.
Connecting Communities staff and volunteers work with each individual to identify their top goals that they would like to achieve in their journey to re-connect with their local community, build up their self-confidence and begin making new friendships.
The service aims to provide person-centred, practical and emotional support for up to 12 weeks, helping people to access groups and activities in their local area where they can begin to build their social support networks.
The service has helped people join activities as diverse as craft groups, exercise classes, theatre groups, support groups, social groups, sport clubs, and music groups and helping people access a range of services across York to address long-term needs including housing advice, financial support, personal care and mental health support.
Another facet of the service is emotional support to help people build their confidence, resilience and independence so they can go on helping themselves once the short term support from Connecting Communities has ended. This support makes a big difference, leading to a better-connected future and wider benefits for the whole community.
Volunteers with Connecting Communities benefit too, meeting new people and feeling valued. Recognising that modern volunteering needs to be flexible and fit our busy lives, Connecting Communities provides the option to for people to commit to just a couple of hours each week, yet still have a big impact, for someone who’s struggling as well as in the local community.
For more information or to make a referral, contact
Briony Grassie (Community Connector, York)
Mobile: 07720 351949
Main Office: 01904 785272