The festive season can, for many, be a very lonely time.
According to Age UK, around one in 20 older people are facing Christmas without speaking to anyone and the charity says the rising cost of living is forcing pensioners to lead more solitary lives.
Kent County Councils’ (KCC’s) Community Connectors are stepping up to help tackle loneliness and isolation among the over 55’s in Kent.
The Positive Wellbeing service is part of the Connected Communities project, which helps lonely and socially isolated individuals to take control of their own health and wellbeing by accessing specialist support.
Our Community Connectors have already helped nearly 300 older people in Kent to take control of a range of situations, build up confidence and self-esteem, build new connections in the community and achieve a better quality of life.
At a recent Christmas event in Swale, Community Connectors and Positive Wellbeing service users came together and encouraged other residents feeling isolated and lonely to participate in building Christmas themed boxes to take home themselves or donate to somebody else.
The reaction of some of those taking part says it all.
“It made me feel very happy, I have had a horrendous few weeks, so coming today has made me feel happy. These are happy tears! My daughter has been in hospital with meningitis, I lost my sister last month, so this has made my Christmas!”
Another resident added “I really enjoyed it. Perhaps more than I thought I was going to! The thing that really made it for me, not just the other people that were there, the volunteers were really smashing. Everybody was really just so lovely, and just being able to chat whilst you’re doing something, to other people, was just really nice.”
The scheme is part of the Connected Communities project co-funded by the European Union’s Interreg France (Channel) England Programme and developed in partnership with seven organisations from the UK and France (Kent County Council, Medway Council, Suffolk County Council, East Suffolk Council, University of Essex, Département de L’Eure en Normandie and Oise Le Département). All are committed to sharing international best practice to help address the challenge of a growing ageing population and helping people to stay independent in their own homes.
To find out more or make a referral to the service, visit the KCC website at www.kent.gov.uk/communityconnectors
Notes to editors:
KCC’s Positive Wellbeing Service is part of the Connected Communities project co-funded by the European Union’s Interreg France (Channel) England Programme. The aim of the project is to reduce social isolation amongst vulnerable residents aged 65 and over, and who live in their own homes; to educate and join up voluntary and charitable organisation who support older people, so they can help keep vulnerable residents safe from scams and doorstep criminals; to share knowledge and learn from other partners.