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Wednesday, 18 December 2013

Winter Wellbeing – loneliness and social isolation

 

Cheshire East Council and its partners are offering a range of advice and support to residents on how to keep warm, well and safe this winter.

This week, we look back at the recent ‘Link, Act, Connect’ events that were organised to help tackle loneliness and social isolation.

Loneliness and isolation are as bad for your health as smoking 15 cigarettes a day and worse than obesity, according to the Campaign to End Loneliness.

And with Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt stating that the country has ‘utterly failed to confront’ the problem of loneliness, Cheshire East Council has been working closely with colleagues from Cheshire East Citizens Advice Bureau North and the Go Project, together with other partners in the Ageing Well programme, to develop this initiative to address the problem locally.

A number of organisations and community leaders have made ‘pledges to act’ as part of ‘Link, Act, Connect’ support events, which took place at Richmond Village, in Nantwich, and Tytherington Family Worship Church, in Macclesfield.

A strategy is now being developed locally to tackle social isolation – said to affect 800,000 people in England, who identify themselves as lonely.

Councillor Janet Clowes, Winter Wellbeing spokeswoman, said: “I am delighted to say that we had a marvellous response at these events, with around 30 organisations and representatives actively sharing ideas and experiences.

“A range of pledges were made, which means that information from the events will be shared more widely. Proposed initiatives include developing Street Associations*, breakfast groups and luncheon clubs. Other attendees will be organising visits and invitations to neighbours, who would otherwise be alone around the Christmas period.

“Of course, this is just the start of a longer journey but the Ageing Well programme board can now shape a strategic approach to tackling social isolation in Cheshire East for older people, people with disabilities and families who are without support networks.”

Sean Reynolds, chairman of the Cheshire East Safeguarding Adults Board, added: “It is Christmas and this is a time that we naturally want to be surrounded by families and friends.

“But research says that, nationally, five million people state that television is their main form of company. This is something that needs to be addressed.”

The ‘Link, Act, Connect’ events are part of an initiative being run by a task group  established by the Ageing Well programme board (and headed by Jacquie Grinham (CEO Cheshire East CAB North) and Carolyn McQuaker (Go Project) to address loneliness and isolation more consistently (in the winter months and beyond).

The Board is keen to engage with other community leaders who want to learn new ideas about how to reach more people who feel alone.

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