Tackling social isolation and loneliness amongst the elderly

Written by: Rachel Swaby
Staying Well Project Worker (Elland)
Calderdale Neigbourhood Schemes Team

The Staying well project has been running across Calderdale since November 2014. Staying Well focuses on reducing social isolation and loneliness and works with people to help connect them with their local community. In Elland the project has seen great success – working with a range of individuals to help them start getting out and about more. Sometimes that encouragement out of the door makes a big difference and with the support of the project we have seen many people start getting out to a local lunch club, craft club or similar. This chance to mix with others can have a big impact on someone; lifting their mood and giving them something to look forward to.

As well as working with individuals Staying Well works alongside the local community to help local groups and organisations grow and develop. We also work with those trying to start new things in the local area.

Alongside Community Transport Calderdale the project has funded and helped set up transport to various groups throughout Elland and Greetland. This has made a big difference to those people who find it hard to travel on public transport; breaking down this barrier has encouraged many people to participate in groups when they might not have done before.

The Elland Staying Well Project also funded and worked alongside a team of volunteers in Elland called ‘Lets Just Do It’ to set up a Christmas Dinner this year. Christmas can be a hard time for those people who find themselves alone and this event provided a way of bringing people together and sharing joy. The event took place on Christmas Day and around 25 older people from the local area went along. The day was full of laughter, food and merriment – just as Christmas Day is meant to be! Through the funds allocated by Staying Well the group organised transport, entertainment and a lorry load of food and treats for those who went along. 

As well as funding local events and groups the Staying Well Project has worked alongside an existing organisation to help develop a befriending scheme in Elland.

Based in Kirklees Yorkshire Community Connections have operated their befriending project ‘Its Only Me’ for several years and with funding and initial support from Staying Well the organisation are now branching out into Calderdale.  ‘Its Only Me’ pairs isolated people with a volunteer who visits them regularly – providing company and often a much needed gossip. For some people getting out and about in the community feels too daunting and being matched with a befriender is an alternative way to tackle loneliness. The scheme are always looking for volunteers and if you are interested in giving up some time to brighten someone’s day then get in contact on the details below!

Elland Staying Well is also working alongside many local groups to help develop their skills, capacity and generally help them go further. We have funded groups to go put on trips – an event many members will look forward to as a change from the norm.  We have also funded and supported local groups to promote themselves, helping them group and develop new connections in the community.

Through investing in the local area and in local groups and organisations Staying Well aims to encourage a community that is more connected. Working alongside those individuals who may find themselves feeling ‘cut off’ and lonely helps promote good health and can make a large difference to someone’s life. 

If you or a family member want to know more about local activities or volunteering opportunities then please get in touch! If you have an idea for a local project or group then drop us a line.

The project is also running in Hebden Bridge, Central Halifax and North Halifax; for more details contact Rachel Swaby on 01422 392 708 or email rachel.swaby@calderdale.gov.uk.

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