Charity project is helping lonely stay connected

The walking football group in Doncaster, which sees older people participate in under the guidance of Rural Action Yorkshire's Community Agents.
The walking football group in Doncaster, which sees older people participate in under the guidance of Rural Action Yorkshire's Community Agents.
0
Have your say

ONE-TO-ONE intervention is making a “huge difference” to the lives of older people in Doncaster who are either lonely or isolated, a new community project has found.

The Doncaster Community Connect project, which launched last June, uses ‘community agents’ to provide face-to-face support to vulnerable people.

The walking football group in Doncaster, which sees older people participate in under the guidance of Rural Action Yorkshire's Community Agents.

The walking football group in Doncaster, which sees older people participate in under the guidance of Rural Action Yorkshire's Community Agents.

Since the launch, 150 older people have been helped by the two agents, Sharon Middling and Jan Milner, who have also recruited a team of 25 volunteers.

The project is ran by Rural Action Yorkshire and funded by Doncaster Council, and aims to reduce rates of social isolation in the over-65s by linking people up to services more effectively in their area. A pilot scheme provides people with iPads to help them keep in touch with family and friends, while a walking football group was set up in one area to help people stay active.

Ms Middling said: “The majority of clients who I come into contact with quote feeling trapped in their own homes, because they are caring for their partners, or just feeling as if they have nobody to talk to. They might describe carers as being unfriendly, or can’t stay long enough for a good chat, which is where the community agent role differs to the normal carer role.”

Project co-ordinator Wayne Munro-Smith said: “In the UK we have an ageing population and increasing reports of a loneliness epidemic. The project demonstrates that it is one-to-one intervention that can really make a huge difference to the lives and confidence of older people.”

The Yorkshire Post launched the Loneliness: The Hidden Epidemic campaign in February 2014 after revealing the scale of social isolation in the region.