West Yorkshire and Harrogate Health and Care Partnership is launching a new campaign that aims to help prevent loneliness and social isolation in communities today.
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 ‘Looking out for our neighbours’ campaign hopes to inspire people to reach out to those who live alone or might need help, and encourage 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.
Carol McKenna, Chief Officer for NHS North Kirklees Clinical Commissioning Group and NHS Greater Huddersfield Clinical Commissioning Group said: “Tackling loneliness is something we can all very easily take part in. It doesn’t need to be much – a simple hello, a smile or asking how someone is feeling can make a huge difference to a person’s life. I’m fully supportive of this campaign – it’s a great example of how the smallest of actions when done together can go a long way towards creating a real impact on those around us”.
Around 200 organisations have pledged their support to take part in the campaign from local dementia friendly cafes, to sports clubs (including Leeds Rhinos Foundation and Wakefield Trinity Rugby Club Community Trust), Harrogate Football Club and the Yorkshire Sports Foundations, to housing providers, the Piece Hall Trust, Andy’s Man Club, Macmillan Cancer Charity, hospitals, councils and mental health and wellbeing organisations – the list is endless.
Cllr Musarrat Khan, Kirklees Council said: “30 or 40 years ago it was the norm in most communities to check on neighbours living on their own and for various reasons we’ve experienced a shift in culture, which has meant more and more people are now isolated. This campaign will highlight the issues around isolation as well as encourage neighbours to be more connected. It will increase a sense of belonging for all those who partake, enhance a sense community and individual feelings of wellbeing.”
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 on 15 March and will run across West Yorkshire and Harrogate. It’s been created with the help of over 100 residents across the region. 30,000 households across West Yorkshire and Harrogate will receive a hand-delivered ‘neighbour pack’ that will include 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 hand-delivered 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.
Jo’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 centre piece 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