Good work going on, but strategy needed

THERE IS real concern that good work currently going on to tackle loneliness could be later sidelined if it is not part of Health and Wellbeing Strategies, the Campaign to End Loneliness has warned.

Calderdale Council leader Coun Tim Swift says it takes loneliness "very seriously"

Of the five remaining councils that have not included isolation in their strategies, Doncaster, Calderdale, East Riding, Wakefield and North East Lincolnshire, each is already working to tackle the issue.

Doncaster Council is currently working on a refresh of its Health and Wellbeing Strategy, which includes a review to see if there are any gaps. Coun Pat Knight, chair of the Health and Wellbeing Board, said it recognised that loneliness and isolation are important issues. Work already ongoing includes a Dementia Friends project, which aims to include people with dementia in their community.

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Calderdale Council, which in April invested nearly £1m with NHS Calderdale CCG into projects that tackle loneliness, already has a number of schemes ongoing.

Council leader Coun Tim Swift said it takes loneliness “very seriously” and a new project starting in September would establish local groups to work with GPs to look at how lonely people could be supported.

East Riding will review its strategy in 2016, and the Health and Wellbeing Board is “keen to address the issue of loneliness,” a spokesperson said.

Initiatives already working include the Living Well project in Hornsea, which is set to expand in October. It includes a telephone befriending service, cybercafe and lunch clubs, run in conjunction with Hornsea United Reform Church.

Wakefield Council maintained that references to loneliness were already in its strategy, and that reducing loneliness remained an ongoing priority.

Coun Pat Garbutt, Cabinet Member for Adults and Health, said it was working with NHS Wakefield CCG and Age UK to provide bereavement support to reduce the loneliness and isolation many feel after losing a loved relative and social prescribing with GPs through its social services team.

A spokesperson for North East Lincolnshire Council said loneliness was a key part of both its Building Choice, Releasing Community Capacity Programme and our Ageing Better Big Lottery funding bid.