The British Red Cross and the Co-op undertook major research into loneliness and social isolation last year, which showed that 9m people across the UK identify as lonely most or some of the time. In Yorkshire, 87 per cent of people surveyed said they thought loneliness was a serious problem.
It identified 39 areas across the country where help was needed most to tackle the crisis - with Rotherham and York included.
Earlier this year, Connecting Communities projects were set up in both areas to support people who are at particular risk of the most serious impacts of loneliness - and now, both schemes are in need of local people to give a little bit of time to help lonely and isolated people “to enjoy a brighter, better connected future”.
The Rotherham Support at Home Service is coordinated by Valerie Allen from, Kimberworth.
After working in health and social care for 28 years, she is keen to use her past experience to create a positive impact in her community.
The service will offer direct, personalised support for adults of all ages experiencing loneliness or social isolation, with staff and volunteers helping people to live as independently as they can at home; building trusting relationships and helping them regain their confidence and improve wellbeing.
Ms Allen said: “People close to me have experienced loneliness so this is something close to my heart. The Connecting Communities project is aligned to my own values; it’s fantastic to be involved in something so important.”
Throughout her career, she was often exposed to the ways in which loneliness can have an impact on health and wellbeing. Now she’s keen to use that experience to help others.
“I saw a real lack of places to sign-post people suffering from loneliness so sometimes it was tough to know where to send them for support. Often those people don’t know where to look for information that might help – if you’re socially isolated then word of mouth may not reach you. To have this new service available on a local community level is fantastic.”
Both services in Rotherham and York are for adults aged 18 or over who feel affected by loneliness or social isolation and want help to reconnect.
Over the next year, they will provide vital support for hundreds of adults of all ages who have no one to turn to.
Ms Allen added: “Sometimes all someone needs is a hand holding, but our end goal is to enable the individual to become confident in making those connections themselves, community really is so important. “A small contribution can go on to have a big impact on a person’s life and on the wider community.”
To volunteer in Rotherham, call 01609 772 186 or email [email protected]
For York, call 01904 785272 or email [email protected]