News release from 13/11/2018

New toolkit to tackle loneliness

New toolkit to tackle loneliness

A new toolkit that gives practical help to communities to tackle loneliness and social isolation – which can be as bad for you as smoking 15 cigarettes a day – has been launched.

According to the Campaign to End Loneliness, there are nine million lonely people in the UK and four million of them are older people. Furthermore, according to Age UK, half a million older people go at least five or six days a week without seeing or speaking to anyone.

Now, South Cambridgeshire District Council has published an online reference guide containing tangible advice on how local groups can set up projects like community cafes, mobile warden schemes and mental health and wellbeing groups.

Crucially, it sets-out how communities can access funding from a variety of sources to get their ideas off the ground. This could include applying to the Council’s Community Chest scheme, which provides funding for grass-roots projects, especially those that work to reach people who are lonely or socially isolated. It gives pointers for staying on the right side of health and safety rules, advice on publicity to spread the word about a new project and outlines how groups can measure whether their efforts are working and making a difference.

The toolkit also pulls together 12 case studies of schemes that are already up and running across South Cambridgeshire to benefit those just starting out. The growing list of case studies currently includes a timebank in Cambourne, community lunch club in Haslingfield and Harlton (pictured - above two images), mental health and wellbeing group in Great and Little Wilbraham, community minibus in Histon and Impington, mobile warden scheme based in Melbourn, parish nurse based out of Hildersham, community café in Swavesey, older person’s worker in Histon and Impington, repair café in Fulbourn, cookery club in Cambourne and new age kurling group in Papworth. It is anticipated that residents wishing to set up schemes similar to these in their area will be able to benefit from the experiences detailed in the case studies.

South Cambridgeshire District Council’s Lead Cabinet Member for Housing, Cllr Hazel Smith (pictured - above), is responsible for this area of the authority’s work, and said: “I’m very pleased that we have pulled all of this incredibly useful information together into something that is easy to follow and, importantly, has practical advice for groups that are working hard to reach lonely and socially isolated residents. A major study found that loneliness, living alone and poor social connections are as bad for your health as smoking 15 cigarettes a day, and the same research suggests that loneliness is worse for you than obesity. I really hope that parishes across South Cambridgeshire will try to follow some of this good practice because this is such an important cause. This toolkit is packed full of excellent examples of existing schemes which others can learn from. We want to embed health and wellbeing into everything we do as a Council and this is another good example of how we’re doing that. I’d urge those groups thinking about setting up a project to tackle social isolation in their area to have a look because it’s full of practical help, like how they can get funding through schemes like our Community Chest.”

The well-established Haslingfield and Harlton Lunch Club is highlighted as one case study that others could learn from. Christine Kipping from the group commented: “Our Luncheon Club began 15 years ago and has become a very important part of the lives of some members of our community. We provide a good quality two course meal that is cooked freshly by our volunteers and is always very popular, but we are all aware of the importance of it being a place to meet old, and new, friends.”

The toolkit for tackling social isolation and loneliness can be found on this part of our website.

A video highlighting Haslingfield and Harlton Lunch Club as a successful case study is available to watch on our YouTube channel here.