Tackling Loneliness in our CommunitiesPosted on 24th April 2014 by Jo Ivens
A new report released today by think tank, IPPR, says that most care for older people is not provided by the state or private agencies but by family members. But, by 2017 the number of people in need of care will outstrip the number of adult children able to provide it. They suggest that one way of responding to this is to develop community support and neighbourhood networks. I spoke on Danny Pike’s show on BBC Radio Sussex this morning about how our Neighbourhood Care Scheme is already providing this kind of support – and how we’d like to do more.
Click the play button below if you want to listen to the programme through the BBC Sussex website. The topic begins at 8:15 into the programme. Danny talks to me from 12:35 and finishes the topic at 21:21. This audio is available for 7 days from now, so make sure to listen soon.
The Neighbourhood Care Scheme (NCS) operates in 10 neighbourhoods in Brighton & Hove. In each of the last 3 years we have facilitated 220 volunteers to provide 10,000 hours of support to over 250 Scheme Members. Our work is based on the simple desire of people to help each other and to be part of something bigger. Volunteers visit for a chat, help people to get out of the house, or do simple household tasks.
Isolation and loneliness is a growing problem, we are having smaller families, often in far-flung places and an ageing population. The effects of loneliness can be devastating on our mental and physical health. The Campaign to End Loneliness says that being lonely can be as bad for our physical health as smoking, it increases the risk of high blood pressure and of developing other disabling health conditions.
What we do in the NCS is very simple, but has a huge impact on the lives of often very isolated people. 91% of Scheme Members say they have benefited from their volunteer support, 54% feel more connected to their community and 42% feel less depressed.
The NCS has huge benefits for our volunteers too – 94% report a positive benefit from volunteering and 63% feel more connected to their community.
We know that there is a huge need within Brighton & Hove for more support of this kind, and there is a steady supply of volunteers who want to help. We are only restricted by the limits to the funding we have, which we use to assess and match Scheme Members; to recruit, match, train and support volunteers, and to keep Scheme Members and volunteers safe.