West Yorkshire and Harrogate Health and Care Partnership is launching a new campaign that aims to help prevent loneliness across the district today. It’s being backed by a host of local organisations - including sports heroes from Wakefield Trinity Rugby Club, NHS services, Wakefield Council, Healthwatch, WDH, Police, West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Services, charities and community organisations.
The ‘Looking out for our Neighbours’ campaign encourages local people to do simple things to look out for one another to help improve the wellbeing of other residents in the area.
According to research from The Health Foundation (December 2018), social isolation can increase the risk of having a stroke by a third, and older people who live alone are 50% more likely to visit A&E than those who live with others.
Findings published in Age UK’s new report “All the lonely people: Loneliness amongst older people” (2018) show that the number of older people who are lonely is rising quickly. This could be a major public health concern because if loneliness is not addressed it can seriously affect people’s health and well-being.
The campaign hopes to inspire people to reach out to those who live alone or might need help, and encourages them to do simple things for them that will make a real difference to their wellbeing. This could be anything from picking up some shopping, to saying “hello” or even something as simple as giving a wave next time they see their neighbours.
Rob Webster, CEO Lead for West Yorkshire and Harrogate Health and Care Partnership and CEO for South West Yorkshire Partnership NHS Foundation Trust said:
“In August 2018, the Partnership allocated £1m to go toward supporting voluntary and community organisations. Further funding from the Partnership’s Urgent and Emergency Programme Board will support the campaign. People of all ages can feel alone for a variety of reasons, for example following bereavement, a change in relationship or becoming unemployed. This important campaign is a helpful reminder that it’s often the smallest acts of kindness that make the biggest difference to a person’s life. As neighbours, we could all look out for each other a bit more and local organisations can also help bring people together in shared activities.”
The campaign starts today (Friday 15 March) and will run in Wakefield and across West Yorkshire and Harrogate. It has been created with the help of more than 100 residents across the region. Around 200 organisations across the wider region have pledged their support to take part in the campaign from local dementia friendly cafes, to sports clubs, Andy’s Man Club, Macmillan Cancer Charity, hospitals, councils and mental health and wellbeing organisations – the list is endless.
Merran McRae, CEO for Wakefield Council, said:
“We’re delighted to be supporting and backing this important campaign which I hope will help tackle the enormous impact loneliness brings to people’s lives - at every level - regardless of age. Social relationships are key to good health and saying hello or having a chat doesn’t take a lot but can mean so much to people who are living alone without the support of family and friends around them’.
Jo Webster, Chief Officer at NHS Wakefield Clinical Commissioning Group and Strategic Lead of Health and Care Transformation and Integration for Wakefield District, said:
“The devastating impact loneliness can have on our mental and physical health makes it an issue we cannot ignore. Loneliness is a deeply personal experience, unique to every individual; a problem with different causes and different consequences. It’s complicated but we have a huge opportunity to make a difference to the lives of many people who are touched by loneliness across all our communities. Alongside my colleagues in West Yorkshire and Harrogate I am passionate and committed to this campaign; Local people and the communities they belong to are our biggest asset and we need to support them in every way we can”.
Martin Barkley, Chief Executive, The Mid Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust said:
Medical advances mean people are living longer, but sadly too many are lonely. Transforming healthcare isn’t just about hospitals, new treatments and technologies; it is crucially about living and ageing well. Keeping people active and engaged in their communities is a key part of this work and we all have a role to play – and looking out for our neighbour is a good place to start and something we can all do to be of support”.
Sarah Roxby, Associate Director – Health, Housing and Transformation for WDH (Wakefield District Housing) added:
“WDH are happy to support the ‘Looking out for our neighbours’ campaign as creating safe and confident communities is a big part of the work we do as a business. We want to encourage our tenants to look out for their older or more vulnerable neighbours especially during the winter. This campaign is a great way to get this message out.”
30,000 neighbour packs will be shared across West Yorkshire and Harrogate. This includes a range of different resources to inspire and encourage residents to champion togetherness in their area and look out for those in need.
For those who don’t receive a pack, all resources are available to download from the campaign website ourneighbours.org.uk
Key to the success of the campaign will be local community organisations and groups working with and in their neighbourhoods.
Sports clubs across Wakefield are among those backing the campaign.
Craig Shepherd, Wakefield Trinity Community Trust’s General Manager, said:
“There are over 60,000 elderly residents living in Wakefield who are lonely and feel isolated. We have an opportunity to appeal to the good nature of the people around them and encourage people to look out for their neighbours. This could be in simple ways, like a daily conversation, or even going the extra mile and contributing some time to complete jobs for them. Whatever small amount of time you can provide to your neighbours around you will be appreciated more than you will ever know. Wakefield Trinity Community Trust are delighted to support this project and we will do all we can to raise awareness.”
Amy Hardman from Featherstone Rovers said:
“We are delighted to be a part of this great initiative, as a strong family club we feel we are the heart of the Featherstone community and we have a responsibility to support local residents. We are hoping that being involved with the ‘Looking out for your neighbours’ campaign will help us to reignite the community spirit that has always been so passionate in the past.”
Looking Out for our Neighbours is also being supported by major charitable causes.
Jo Cox’s sister Kim Leadbeater, Ambassador for The Jo Cox Foundation, said: "I feel passionately about creating well-connected communities where everyone is happy and healthy and has a sense of identity and belonging, and it is heart-warming to see the work that Jo started on this important issue being continued in such a positive way in the county where we grew up.
“Much of my focus since Jo was killed has been on how we can build compassionate communities and bring people together. The national Great Get Together campaign which we run across the weekend of Jo's birthday in June is the centrepiece of this, and it would be wonderful to think that some of the connections which will be made through the 'Looking out for your Neighbours' initiative can be continued and we see lots of Great Get Togethers happening in June as a result! I believe if we all work together to prevent loneliness and its associated health risks, we can reduce the demand on health and care services and have a positive impact on the wellbeing of everyone, which is why I am delighted to support this campaign.”
Chris Pointon, Co-founder and Global Campaign Ambassador for the #hellomynameis initiative is also supporting the campaign. He added:
“A simple introduction can go a long way in starting a human connection and striking a conversation. We live in a very diverse society and it is everyone's responsibility to look out for other people and be kind and considerate.”
To download your neighbour pack or to find out more about the campaign, visit ourneighbours.org.uk