A report published by Ageing Better Middlesbrough reveals how the Big Lottery funded programme has significantly improved the wellbeing of the older people it works with, despite these individuals initially presenting as among the most lonely and isolated in the country.
Called Learning about Loneliness, the report analyses information from surveys filled in by people who received one to one support and therapy, insights from staff and volunteers and conversations with older people in Middlesbrough.
Working hard to find creative ways to reduce loneliness and isolation in people aged 50 and over in Middlesbrough, Ageing Better Middlesbrough:
- offers individual support to people who are lonely and isolated,
- organises taster sessions to introduce people to new activities,
- ensures community groups have the skills and resources to keep people active in later life,
- delivers digital technology sessions to help older people get to grips with their mobile devices,
- brings people together through its free membership, and
- send its members a comprehensive What’s On guide that lists groups, activities and opportunities across the town.
Michelle Dawson, Programme Manager said: “What we have learned is not rocket science, but the solutions take time and cost money.
“Most significantly, it is the power of simple human kindness. People keep telling us that even the smallest gesture can make a difference to how they feel and boost their confidence that in turn helps them get out and make connections in their community.
“We have sent our report to those who are making decisions about older people in our town. We are already working closely with many of them.
“We are asking for their help – to keep older people at the heart of decisions being made about them and to keep breaking down the barriers that older people face, such as transport.”
To read the report go to www.ageingbettermiddlesbrough.org.uk/learning-about-loneliness or call 01642 257034 to request a copy.
Find out more about Ageing Better Middlesbrough at www.ageingbettermiddlesbrough.org.uk
What works to reduce loneliness and social isolation?
Ageing Better Middlesbrough stresses that everyone is individual and there is no one size fits all solution to stopping someone feeling lonely. However there are things we can all do to make people feel included and to help a friend or relative get out and about:
- A unique approach to each person – understand people’s circumstances, listen and spend time with them.
- Be a friend.
- Gain someone’s trust and build their confidence. This means meeting regularly over a period of time.
- For organisations, give information in a format that people find easy to understand. Ageing Better Middlesbrough sends out most of its information in hard-copy.
- Small gestures go a long way – just being there for someone, saying hello and catching up with a neighbour, offering to pop to the shops for a relative.