Mince Pies, Friends and Neighbours!Posted on 12th December 2014 by Sean de Podesta
A couple of weeks ago, I was at a meeting at The Fed Centre for Independent Living with a small group of people who had been involved in their Out and About pilot project. We were looking at how we could translate the lessons of the project into accessible guidance both for individuals who might want to help a person with a physical disability or an older person go out safely and for groups which would like to increase access to their activities. For people who are at risk of being housebound, getting out of the house and enjoying activities with the opportunity to make new friends can be really life-enhancing. The Out and About group plan to produce a simple advice leaflet in 2015.
At the meeting, we also discussed a couple of other interesting initiatives. First, the Be a Friend Campaign launched in November by the national charity Friends of the Elderly (FOTE). This encourages people to make contact with their older neighbours and suggests ways in which they can do this. The idea is to raise everyone’s awareness of loneliness and what we can do about it. FOTE have chosen Sussex as a pilot area for Be a Friend, and last week I met with Tracey Allen who is co-ordinating the campaign locally. She is keen to ensure that the campaign complements activity that is already going on, so in the New Year she hopes to build partnerships with the many local befriending schemes.
Another very seasonal initiative is Mince Meet Up launched this week (7-13 December) by Know My Neighbour – a coalition of local voluntary, community, faith and third-sector groups. The idea is to invite a neighbour or group of neighbours round for a cup of tea or mince pie – to make that first move that might lead to a positive neighbourly relationship. We look forward to seeing the feedback from this and building on this in 2015, with a Neighbourhood Day in the summer.
The idea of good neighbourliness seems to be in the air. If you don’t know your near neighbours, the Neighbourhood Care Scheme (NCS) is a simple way to connect with an older person in your area, with the added benefit of a trusted intermediary and ongoing support. Contact us via the website, by phone on 01273 775888 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. It looks like 2015 could be a very positive year for neighbourliness in Brighton & Hove. Why not be a part of it?
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