Published: Wednesday, 28th March 2018
With over 1.9m older people across the UK feeling ignored or invisible and loneliness as harmful to health as smoking 15 cigarettes a day, SDC has funded an innovative new project to help combat it.
Age UK Sevenoaks and Tonbridge have been given almost £40,000 to fund their ‘Pop-Up Pop-Ins’ project, helping older people across the District facing loneliness and isolation.
Sevenoaks District Council has funded the scheme through the Better Care Fund which will see weekly Pop-Up Pop-Ins organised at village halls and public houses across the District, providing older people and their families with a place to go for advice and information, as well as the chance to have a tea or coffee whilst meeting new people.
The money will fund a paid co-ordinator to arrange the events where people will also be offered free exercise taster sessions and advice on nutrition, falls prevention and guidance on how to maintain a healthy lifestyle as well as introducing them to nearby volunteering opportunities.
The co-ordinator will also be supported by the Council’s Housing and One You teams helping those effected by loneliness to benefit from making new friends, and getting more involved in their local community.
The weekly sessions will also give access to the Council’s existing services and referrals for funding for home improvements, helping to address physical and mental health issues which come from unsuitable accommodation.
Chief Officer for Age UK Sevenoaks and Tonbridge, Gillian Shepherd-Coates, says: “Age UK Sevenoaks and Tonbridge are delighted that we have been successful with the recent grant funding bid for ‘Pop Up Pop Ins’ for the South of the district. The Pop-ins will be a way that we can further our work in the community, providing an opportunity for lonely and isolated older people living in the rural communities, to get out of their homes and meet up for a coffee, a friendly chat and company. It will also enable them to access our many services, each designed to improve their health and wellbeing in later life.”
Sevenoaks District Council Cabinet Member for Housing and Health, Cllr Michelle Lowe, adds: "Loneliness can be toxic causing a range of mental and physical conditions. Our One You advisors are finding that many people make appointments to visit their GP simply because they are lonely or that their loneliness is causing health issues. In modern society where older people are often separated from their families they sometimes do not speak to another person for days or even weeks on end. In rural areas the isolation can be even worse.
“Sevenoaks District Council is determined to tackle loneliness as part of our ageing well strategy, which is why we are delighted to be able to fund this exciting project by Age UK. We offer a range of activities for older people to enjoy with others from Chair Yoga, to health walks such as Every Step Counts to dementia cafés for people living with dementia and their carers. This new service will help signpost people to the range of support services available to them. The best part is as the Age UK service goes to them - people in isolated, rural locations will also be able to access them.”