Robert and Swindon Seniors Forum have been working together over the past five years on a local campaign to tackle loneliness, with the aim of bringing together key organisations in and around Swindon to discuss the excellent work that is already taking place locally, as well as discussing what further can be done to tackle loneliness.
UPDATE: 19th July 2023
Loneliness and social isolation are issues that can affect us all, at any time of our lives. During the school summer holidays when children and young people are less likely to spend time with their friends, or engage in physical activities, these issues are more likely to affect them. Transitioning from a busy school environment where you see your friends daily to weeks without a structured routine can be a difficult adjustment. More: Stay connected this summer says South Swindon MP Sir Robert Buckland | Rt Hon Robert Buckland KC MP
UPDATE: 24th May 2023
As part of his ongoing campaign to tackle loneliness, Sir Robert is inviting local residents to a Volunteer Expo event here in Swindon. Full details can be found here: https://www.robertbuckland.co.uk/news/sir-robert-buckland-mp-invites-local-residents-swindon-volunteer-expo-event-part-national
UPDATE 23rd May 2023
The Swindon Town FC Community Foundation's Extra Time Programme has been running for almost 15 years now, offering retired and semi-retired adults the opportunity to take part in light sporting activity with likeminded people.
The programme has a strong social element, and after taking part in activities such as snooker, croquet, or padel, there is always time for a cuppa and catch up.
The men's group meet on a Tuesday morning, and the ladies group on a Thursday morning. Additional activities also take place throughout the year, including a Summer Picnic and and the STFC Players Christmas Dinner.
The programme is inclusive for all with participants currently aged from 59 to 84 with a mixed level of fitness and ability. For more information please email James on James.S@STFCfoundation.com or call 01793 421303
UPDATE: 14 Feb 2023 - Join the Livewell Team and make new friends here in Swindon!
The brilliant Livewell team at Swindon Borough Council work hard to tackle loneliness here in Swindon by running a number of excellent local initiatives. They have volunteering positions available, so if you would like to join them, and meet new friends, please get in touch!
Swindon Circles Befriending
If offering a cheering word to someone who has limited mobility and is feeling alone appeals to you, then Swindon Circles could bring a new friendship into your life. Swindon Circles volunteers often find themselves learning new things and hearing interesting stories. We have some fabulous friendships develop and if you'd like to find out more please get in touch.
Local Hero volunteers help with one off tasks for people who don't have any other support. It might be cutting back hedge by the front door to make medicine deliveries easier, giving someone a lift to a hospital appointment or walking a dog for someone who's recovering from an operation. Local Heroes really are heroes to the people they help.
Local Heroes also support various projects supporting refugees and asylum seekers.
Active and Inclusive
If you'd like to help at our inclusive cycling sessions at the County Ground athletics track, push someone in their wheelchair on the ice at the Link, or support local families working to live a healthier life, then becoming an Activator with LiveWell, Swindon might be for you.
Forget me not Cakes & the Swindon Big Knit
If you regularly read through the newsletter (or even just look at the pictures), you will see the wonderful cakes and knitted/crocheted items our talented volunteers produce. We bake birthday cakes for those that wouldn't normally receive a cake on their birthday and knitted items are distributed to those who need them most.
If you are interested in any of the above projects please contact firstname.lastname@example.org for a volunteer application form.
Loneliness Following Covid - Feedback From The Event
What was good about today's meeting
- Being able to bend the ear of the Swindon bus company general manager
- Meeting up with other members and colleagues
- Meeting friends again
- Being able to network with other agencies and people
- Finding out relative important information not previously known
- Meeting in person
- Enjoyed the Workshops
- Meeting people in person I had only met online
- Sharing knowledge and perspectives
- The ability to network with other organisations
- Opportunity to meet people and discuss these issues
- Hear from others
- Meeting like-minded people, keen to make a difference
- Speakers, network, making new contacts
- Getting lots of information from different agencies
- Getting to understand how many agencies there are working in Swindon for the older persons – Brilliant
- Networking with other professionals
- Sharing of ideas
- Booking speakers for future events
- A good opportunity to network with other services in the community
- Well-organized and very welcoming
- Thank you
- Interaction and sharing thoughts information and ideas
- Getting to meet colleagues, seniors and new professional links
- Highlighting isolation for all is a thing
- The silver service (sic) talk
- Getting together
- Meeting lots of new people
- Good networking opportunity
- Good meeting and glad to see steps are being made to improve situation
- Actual face-to-face meetings and networking
- Range of attendees and organisations
- Good program
- Totally spoilt by very bad acoustics
- Opportunity to meet other Partners in the arena of supporting older people
- Good networking
What would you like to happen at future meetings
- Nice to have a fluid opportunity to share
- A longer day conference
- More physical actions more people that can help / make a difference
- You said we did (sic)
- When positive step forward: any easy wins
- Guest speakers on relevant topics
- Practical actions
- Things that are working
- Maybe concentrate on one particular section, i.e lack of transport options that are affordable to help individuals attend groups and activities
- Bring all age groups together this equals a really rich conversation
- Let's connect with everyone
- Acting on awareness of issues and possible ways to deal with isolation and loneliness
- Maybe a better opportunity to get to know others – publishing attendance list beforehand to know who's who
- Giving people an opportunity to choose which workshop to join
Moving around different tables to connect with more people
- Sharing a list of delegates to further enable networking
- More time to network
- Would like to have a choice of workshop
- Focus on resolving the transport issues in area where there is no commercial service offered / available
- Room was a bit echoey, would be difficult to follow conversations, particularly those with hearing aids
- More discussion - really valuable
- Larger workshops stop more of the same
- Feedback for the organisations and what they are actually doing to resolve some of the issues raised (and from previous summit)
Loneliness Following Covid – An Update Following The Event
Friday 23rd September 2022
A Big Thank You from Sir Robert Buckland KBE KC MP & Swindon Seniors Forum
A huge thank you to everyone who attended our recent Loneliness Following Covid Event at Buckhurst Community Centre here in Swindon. It was great to see so many of you at our networking event, where we shared ideas, thoughts, and a whole host of information.
With special thanks to our speakers, Lady Christabel Flight, Founder of Silver Sunday, and Rob Hanks from Thames Water.
It was really interesting to learn more about Silver Sunday, how it was formed, and how it has grown over the years to become The National Day For Older People.
Lady Christabel shared a Silver Sunday – Guide for Organisations Leaflet at the event.
If you did not receive a copy of this information leaflet and you would like one, please email Rebecca at email@example.com and she will send you one over.
There are three Silver Sunday events taking place here in Swindon this year, if you would like further details about these events, or perhaps you would like to promote these events, please visit www.silversunday.org.uk or contact Rebecca at firstname.lastname@example.org for a leaflet.
Rob Hanks from Thames Water shared helpful details about three Thames Water Schemes with us – Water Help, WaterSure, and the Free Priority Services Register. Details as below:
If you live in a low-income household, Thames Water may be able to discount your bill through WaterHelp.
If you qualify, Thames Water currently offers a 50% discount on your whole bill. This amount may change in the future.
If you’re on a water meter but finding it hard to save water because you have a large family or water-dependent medical condition, we may be able to cap your bills through WaterSure.
Further details about these two schemes can be found here:
Free Priority Services Register
If you or someone you know needs a little extra support, perhaps because of their health, disability, or age, or if they’re going through a difficult time in their life, Thames Water may also be able to help through their free Priority Services Register.
Further details here
Our Event Workshops were:
Health, General Practice
Business / Employers
Workshop feedback was very helpful and included:
People are reconnecting in their own time following Covid – if we push too hard, people will retreat.
Social interaction has suffered as a result of Covid.
Technology is enabling some people to connect but is also giving people an opportunity to opt out of connecting by using ring doorbells and using tap on, tap off on the bus, etc.
There is an increase in anxiety, a decrease in confidence, and an increase in fear as a result of the global pandemic.
Inequality may have been worsened by the pandemic, but also, everyone got a taste of loneliness during Lockdown, so maybe people now have greater empathy and awareness and are hopefully more open.
The cost of living is impacting on people who are starting to reconnect
CONNECTION IS KEY
Treating everyone as an individual and trying to understand a person’s experience and concerns will help, as well as working together.
Charities and Community Organisations played a vital role during the pandemic by offering phone calls, video calls, and home deliveries.
Small local businesses also stepped up to help.
This showed that collaborative work is vital – charities need to work together.
Problems faced by charities as a result of the pandemic include a loss of funding, and not enough help to assist residents who have English as a second language.
Encourage Schools To Connect With Local Community Groups And Care Homes
To build a social richness and to help charities to bridge the gap, we need to connect the young here in Swindon with the old. Robert has begun to do this by writing to all schools in south Swindon and asking them to link up with a local care home. There is much more that we can all do to encourage this.
Get Help With Technology
If you need help and advice to support residents to connect with technology please contact Paula Nunnery, Digital Inclusion Officer with the LiveWell Swindon Team PNunnery@swindon.gov.uk
Laptops For Local Schools And Charities
Robert runs a local scheme, which provides students and charities here in Swindon with refurbished laptops. If you belong to a local charity and need a device, or you know of a local student who needs a device, please get in touch with Robert to register your interest by emailing email@example.com further details about the Laptop Scheme can be found here: https://www.robertbuckland.co.uk/campaigns/laptops-local-schools-and-charities-campaign
Further ideas and Recommendations
We need to ensure that different invitation methods are used so that social interaction is successful
We need more new respite resources and lunch clubs.
We need more trusted transport resources
Special insurance needs to be considered. The Federation of Small Businesses can assist with this.
We need to build on the churches response to the pandemic by having a Parish Network.
Ideas For The Future
Connection is key and we must all continue to share ideas, information, and resources if we are to achieve more locally, such as some of the above ideas.
Sir Robert Buckland and Swindon Seniors Forum will be setting up a Hub for ongoing information sharing networking and connecting.
If you would like to be registered for the Hub, please contact Rebecca at firstname.lastname@example.org
With grateful thanks to all for your work with us over the years.
Sir Robert Buckland KBE KC MP and Swindon Seniors Forum
Update - 14th June 2022 Loneliness Awareness Week 2022
Feeling lonely is something that all of us can experience at any point and can have a huge impact on our wellbeing.
Sometimes admitting we feel lonely can be hard but it’s important to remember that many others experience feelings of loneliness too, and that this feeling can pass.
This Loneliness Awareness Week, I am continuing to encourage people to reach out to others to help someone who may be feeling lonely, taking small acts of kindness such as sending them a text or inviting them for a walk or a coffee, which might in turn help themselves feel less lonely too.
Advice for loneliness
Here is some practical advice and tips from Mind on how to help yourself or others if you or they are feeling lonely.
1. Keep in touch with those around you.
Talk to friends and family. Sometimes a friendly chat can make a big difference, whether someone is around the corner or further away.
Whether you choose to meet up in person, or chat on the phone, via video calls or on social media, all contact can help remind you that you are not alone.
Make sure to check in regularly – most of us love hearing from people we have lost contact with. Creating a routine of checking in with others and being more sociable can be good, as it can make it easier to reach out at the time you feel lonely.
Messaging old friends or colleagues, or setting up a group chat on a messaging app like WhatsApp or Messenger may help them and you feel more connected.
2. Join a group.
Find a group with a shared interest. Being part of an offline or online group or club is a great way to make connections and meet people. Think about activities that you would like to try out and look for groups centred around these.
The people around you may also be able to introduce you to a group they belong to. This could be anything, from gaming and singing to cooking or sport.
Also remember to be welcoming to newcomers and seek to involve others in the conversation, especially those who may be lacking confidence.
More more details and signposting about local groups, please contact the Livewell Hub at Swindon Borough Council https://www.swindon.gov.uk/.../contact_the_live_well...
You can also contact me by emailing email@example.com or ringing 01793 533393
3. Do things you enjoy.
Filling your time doing more things you like can stop you from focusing on feelings of loneliness and is good for your wellbeing.
Spending time outdoors in green space, doing exercise and listening to podcasts and radio shows are just some of the ways to boost your mood and occupy your mind.
4. Share your feelings – but do not compare.
Being able to talk about how you feel with others can help with loneliness, and hearing a familiar voice or seeing a friendly face makes us feel less isolated.
However, try not to compare yourself with others. Remember that many people may only share the good things happening to them on social media, so comparing can make you feel lonelier.
Plus, we can never be sure of what someone else is going through.
5. Help someone else feel connected.
Reach out to others – think about people you know who might be feeling lonely and make an effort to connect with them.
Remember that feeling lonely for a long time can make it harder for people to make new connections. It may be difficult for people experiencing loneliness to respond to your friendly contact at first, so be patient and kind.
Try to keep in touch with those around you too. If you pass neighbours or acquaintances on the street, take the time to smile, wave and chat. You could offer to swap phone numbers or create a local group chat to stay connected.
Think about making time to volunteer – it's a great way to meet people and connect, and seeing the benefits of your actions can really help to boost your mental wellbeing.
If you are interested in Volunteering in Swindon, please check out: https://www.swindon.gov.uk/.../volunteering_opportunities...
or contact Volunteers Centre Swindon http://www.swindonvolunteers.org.uk/
Support for loneliness
If you cannot reach out to friends or family, if you want to talk to someone in confidence, or if you know someone who may need some support, please go to https://www.nhs.uk/mental-health/
Update - 20th April 2022
Robert has written to all of the schools here in his constituency of South Swindon, to invite them to become "Care Home Friends".
‘Care Home Friends' is a fantastic new scheme to bring together children and older people living in care homes.
'Become a Care Home Friend' is a 10-week challenge that offers schools a programme of activities to foster understanding about older generations, raise awareness of care homes and build community links.
The challenge was created by Care Home Friends and Neighbours with the goal of connecting young children with older people living in care homes.
The project is funded by Dunhill Medical Trust and the #iwill Fund and is a £54 million joint investment between The National Lottery Community Fund and the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport.
The challenge is aimed at children between the ages of 5 and 14 and includes activities that have been developed by teachers and are embedded in the National Curriculum.
Schools can sign up here My Home Life England | Become a Care Home Friend – Intergenerational Challenge
Update 12th April 2022
Robert promoted Swindon Borough Council's Forget Me Not Cakes Project on his social media pages and put a call out for volunteers. Your can see the post below:
Forget Me Not Cakes make Birthday cakes for those in the community who are lonely, or in need of some extra support. The Swindon Advertiser also covered the story here: Volunteers needed to bake birthday cakes for lonely people | Swindon Advertiser
As a result of this coverage, Robert was delighted to be informed that an additional five volunteers signed up to the brilliant scheme.
If you'd like to bake for Forget Me Not Cakes, or know anyone who would, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 01793 465513.
Update - 30th September 2021
South Swindon MP Robert Buckland, who has been working on a joint campaign with Swindon Seniors Forum to Tackle Loneliness in Swindon, has congratulated the group and thanked members on their tenth anniversary.
Loneliness Campaign Update
14th July 2021
Throughout the Covid pandemic, the ability to connect online has been a lifeline for many people, supporting them to maintain important connections with friends, family and colleagues. However, many people, including those with learning disabilities, face barriers to digital connectivity as a result of the lack of access to mobile technology and the internet, as well as a lack of skills and confidence.
I wrote to Loneliness Minister, Baroness Barran on behalf of the National Learning Disability Charity, Hft to highlight this issue and ask what is being done to bridge the digital divide. I received the following response:
Thank you for your correspondence of 15 June, on behalf of the HF Trust Limited (Hft), 5/6 Brook Office Park, Folly Brook Road, Emersons Green, Bristol, BS16 7FL, regarding the role of the digital divide in loneliness among people who have learning disabilities.
This year, Loneliness Awareness Week was an important moment to remember that, even as restrictions ease, many people will continue to feel lonely. Now more than ever, it is vital that individuals and organisations from across society continue to take action to tackle loneliness.
During lockdown, the ability to connect online was a lifeline for many people, supporting them to maintain essential connections with friends, family and colleagues. However, I know that many people, including those with learning disabilities, face barriers to digital connectivity as a result of the lack of access to mobile technology and the internet, as well as a lack of skills and confidence.
This is an issue government is dedicated to addressing through numerous initiatives. We are seeing the positive impact that access to the internet can have through our £2.5 million digital lifeline fund. This is providing tablets, data and free digital support to over 5,500 people with learning disabilities - enabling them to connect with friends, family, services and support groups, as well as to pursue hobbies and interests.
As the lead department for digital, the department also works closely with the rest of government to ensure that all departments consider digital issues, including the digital divide, when making policy. We are also working with the Inclusive Economy Partnership’s Digital Inclusion Impact Group, made up of industry and civil society leaders, to galvanise industry action to address digital exclusion.
In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, we provided funding to national organisations to help them to adapt and scale up their work to tackle loneliness. This included providing funding to Sense, Mind, the Carers’ Trust and the British Red Cross to support their work with people with disabilities and their carers, and those who are digitally excluded.
The government’s tackling loneliness strategy recognises that anyone can feel lonely, at any time. We also know that some groups, including those with a learning disability, are at a higher risk of feeling chronically lonely. We will continue to work with the Cabinet Office Disability Unit, the Department for Health and Social Care, and organisations working to support people with all kinds of disabilities to inform our work in this space.
With best wishes,
Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Civil Society
Coping with Loneliness - Some helpful words from Swindon Seniors Forum
From an early age, we are taught to be self-sufficient and independent, so for the vast majority of us, it can be so difficult to ask for help when we really need it. Furthermore, in our society there’s quite a lot of stigma around admitting that we’re lonely, or that we’re struggling to manage, or that we feel nervous about tasks that others carry out with ease.
We may have been brought up to feel that it’s selfish to ask for help, or that our needs aren’t as important as other people’s. We don’t want to be a ‘bother’. Certain groups of people are more at risk of loneliness, including carers, disabilities or long-term health conditions, and people who feel excluded or marginalised from the wider community, such as BAME and some LGBT+ people.
Nobody will know that you are struggling if you don’t tell anybody. Please find below list of useful contacts:
Phone 101 in an emergency always call 999
GP Out of Hours Service:
To contact the GP out of Hours Service please dial 111 first.
You can also access 111 Online: Website: www.nhsdirect.uk
Weekdays: 18.30 to 08.00
Weekends: 18.30 Friday - 08.00
Monday Bank Holidays: 18.30 previous evening – 08.00 on the next working day after the Bank Holiday.
5-6 Curtis Street, Swindon SN1 5JU · 01793 537373
The Samaritans offer support and advice to people feeling suicidal or vulnerable 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.
Mental Health Support, Sanford House, Sanford Street, Swindon, SN1 1HE.
Phone: 01793 432031
Advice, Information and Organisations
Adult Social Care and support for older people in Swindon
Visit SBC website .Adult social care and support | Swindon Borough Council
Phone: 0800 085 6666
Age UK Swindon (advice and information):
Age UK Wiltshire:
Phone: 01380 727 767
Monday - Thursday, 9.00 am to 4.00 pm.
Friday, 9.00 am to 1.00 pm.
Community Nursing: GWH.
The Community nursing service provides care to patients at home or in residential homes, many of whom have long-term conditions or disabilities.
Phone: 01793 463333 (choose option 4)
Golden Oldies: www.goldieslive.com
Ensures that public views on local health and social care services are heard.
Sanford House, Sanford Street, Swindon
Phone: 01793 497777 or email@example.com
Leaflets of charities, organisations and information are available in reception at Sanford House Sanford Street, Swindon SN1 1QH
NHS Bath and North East Somerset, Swindon and Wiltshire Clinical Commissioning Group
The Pierre Simonet Building Gateway North Latham Road, Swindon SN25 4DL
Phone: 01793 683700
Visit,www.bswccg.nhs.uk for information.
Robert Buckland, MP for South Swindon:
Phone: 01793 533393
Silver Line: Phone Helpline: 0800 4 70 80 90
Live Well Swindon Hub: Information, advice and triage Service
Tel: The Live well Hub: 01793 465513
Swindon Carers: Centre
Sanford House Sanford Street, Swindon SN1 1HE
Tel: 01793 531133
Swindon Citizens Advice Bureau:
Sanford House Sanford Street, Swindon SN1 1QH
Phone: 01793 681781
contact National Advice Line: 08444 994 114
National website: https://www.citizensadvice.org.uk
Swindon Dial a Ride:
Newcombe Drive, Hawksworth Trading Estate, Swindon, SN2 1DZ
Tel 01793 616050 dial a ride 01793 617828 community transport.
Swindon Equality Coalition:
Phone: 01793 538398
Swindon Local Offer:
Local Offer is a website in Swindon for children & adults who have support needs, giving you correct information and advice at any time. https://localoffer.swindon.gov.uk/home
Swindon Mind: Mental health support,
Sanford House, Sanford Street, Swindon SN1 1HE
Tel: 01793 432031
Swindon North End Bowls Club:
St Marks Recreation Ground, Ipswich Street, Swindon SN2 1DB,
Tel: 07561 058825
Swindon 105.5 Community Radio:
Tel: 01793 611555
Radio Studios, Liden Centre, Barrington Close Swindon, SN3 6HF
Justin Tomlinson, MP for North Swindon:
Tel: 01793 533393,
Orbital Shopping Park, Thamesdown Drive, SN25 4AN
United Community Social Club
A friendly social club for the over 50s at Broadgreen Community Centre, Salisbury Street, Swindon, with activities ranging from singing to keep fit; sewing and crafts to talks on health matters.
Contact: Gloria Morgan or Keith Duffus Phone: Gloria 01793 613310 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Mondays 11:00am to 3:00pm.
Voluntary Action Swindon
Phone: 01793 538398
Wiltshire and Swindon Users Network
Phone: 01380 871057 Website: www.wsun.co.uk
Phone: 01380 723 682
***if you would like your group or organisation added to the list, please get in touch.***
Stay in touch to avoid Loneliness during Coronavirus urge South Swindon MP Robert Buckland and Swindon Seniors Forum
South Swindon MP Robert Buckland and Swindon Seniors Forum are encouraging people to reach out for support and find new ways to stay in touch during lockdown to avoid loneliness.
Robert, who joined forces with Swindon Seniors Forum over two years ago in a local campaign to tackle the issue of loneliness explained:
“With the government advising us to stay at home, it is important that we adapt to how we connect with people now more than ever. We all need to keep up those strong social networks that act as a buffer to help protect us against poor mental health.
“Staying in touch via video calls, WhatsApp or normal phone calls is very important. For many, the telephone will be the easiest and most accessible way to keep in contact. Some of this technology might be new or difficult to use for some older people. I would urge family members, friends and neighbours to offer help and support to install and use apps where possible and within the social distancing guidelines.
“If you are not tech-savvy, you could even write letters to show someone you are thinking of them.”
According to a survey recently undertaken by the charity Mental Health Foundation, almost a quarter of adults living under lockdown have felt loneliness because of Coronavirus, meaning that feelings of loneliness have doubled during this time in the UK.
The most affected group were young people (aged 18-24 years) – with more than four in ten (44 per cent) saying they felt lonely, according to the research study.
The next most affected group were adults aged 25 – 34, with more than one third (35 per cent) saying they had felt loneliness as a result of Coronavirus.
One in six older people aged over 55 said they had felt lonely as a result of coronavirus, according to the study.
The survey data, from 2,221 UK adults aged 18 and over, were collected as part of a major UK-wide longitudinal research project called Coronavirus: Mental Health and the Pandemic.
Norma Thompson, Chair of Swindon Seniors Forum commented:
“All of us at some point or other during this Coronavirus pandemic will feel cut off from our loved ones, especially those who are shielding.
"Many older people who live alone rely on going out and about for social interaction and will no longer even be able to have a conversation with a shop assistant who serves them.
“There is help out there and we would encourage anyone in this situation to get in contact with Swindon Seniors Forum on 07828 446672 or email email@example.com
"We have many befriending services available locally and even though volunteers are unable to make visits at this time, they are still offering this service with phone calls and letter writing.
“If you’re feeling anxious or worried about Coronavirus the charity Mind have some great advice and guidance on their website. Find out how to make a difference in your local area using these tips from edencommunities.https://www.edenprojectcommunities.com/communityaction-response
“Some of our members are without an iPad, or laptop technology needed to communicate with family, friends during isolation, We are also appealing to businesses with spare ones to donate them to Swindon Seniors Forum.”
Tips on how to tackle Loneliness during Coronavirus
Arrange a cup of tea and a virtual catch up with someone you know.
Arrange to watch a film at the same time as a friend and video call, or even a regular phone call after the film to discuss it.
Send a text, email or a letter to a family member you have not heard from in a while
Send an interesting or uplifting article, photograph or quote to a friend, family member or neighbour
Call a work colleague to ask how they are finding the change in routine
Write a letter to a local care home resident. Contact Care Home Volunteers to find out more on 07931 022824 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
If you are on Facebook, join the Swindon Supports Group organised by Councillor Tim Swinyard and stay connected with other local people. You can find out more by visiting https://www.facebook.com/groups/1129094494108068/
Help an elderly family member, friend or neighbour to make the most of technology at this time. Age UK has provided helpful information to help get an elderly family member online, use Skype, social media and watch TV online among other things. They also have a Digital Buddy scheme. For further information visit https://www.ageuk.org.uk/information-advice/work-learning/technology-internet/getting-online/
If you are experiencing loneliness, be honest and reach out to a friend, family member or neighbour, you will not be alone in your feelings.
More information about Robert and Swindon Senior’s Forum’s local campaign to tackle loneliness can be found by visiting https://www.robertbuckland.co.uk/campaigns/campaign-end-loneliness-swindon
For further information or help to tackle loneliness please contact Robert by emailing email@example.com or ring 01793 533393 Please leave a message and a member of Robert’s team will be in touch.
Campaign to End Loneliness in Swindon (Summit Three) Thursday 29th November 2018 - Minutes
Rebecca Wolf on behalf of Robert Buckland MP
"Robert and Swindon Seniors Forum have been working together over the past 18 months on a local campaign to tackle loneliness, with the aim of bringing together key organisations in and around Swindon to discuss the excellent work that is already taking place locally, as well as discussing what further can be done to tackle loneliness.
"The aim of our third event is to look at the Government’s Loneliness Strategy, which was published in October and how this can be implemented locally in key areas such as Charities, GPs and Mental Health, Local Employers and Businesses and Transport. You can read the full document here https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/750909/6.4882_DCMS_Loneliness_Strategy_web_Update.pdf
"We will also hear feedback from the “Be More Us – Belonging and Community Global Conference attended by Swindon Seniors Forum.
"We will hear from our speakers Julie Dowie, from Swindon Live at Home Scheme, about how this local organisation supports older people locally.
"We also have an update from Swindon Circles and Swindon Borough Council, as well as local organisation, Care Home Volunteers.
"Following a short break, you will have the opportunity to attend a series of workshops, which will look at how the Government Loneliness Strategy can be implemented locally in key areas. Our workshop hosts are:
Charities – Fiona Prinzi, Deputy CEO at Swindon Carers
"GP and Mental Health – Dr Eric Holliday from Eldene Surgery and Ivor Bermingham from Avon and Wiltshire Mental Health Partnership
"Local Employers/Businesses Sarah Morris, Director Santander
"Transport – Alex Chutter, Swindon Bus Company"
Feedback from the 4th Annual Global Conference “Be More Us – Belonging and Community,” Norma Thompson, Chair, Swindon Seniors Forum.
"Good afternoon and very warm welcome to the opening of the third loneliness summit, before we start I would like you all to spend a minute connecting with the person next to you.
"The aim of the conference in London was to celebrate, showcase, and explore the role of culture, sport and the arts in tackling loneliness.
"Following the resignation of the first Loneliness Minister, Tracey Crouch MP, the Prime Minister has appointed Mims Davies MP as the new Loneliness Minister."
Norma showed us Age UK Loneliness Heat Maps and explained how they should be used with local knowledge in order to help identify areas of need.
We also looked at the issue of Loneliness from a global perspective, including data from Denmark and how the UK compares.
"The good news is that the UK is leading the way in the campaign to tackle the issue of Loneliness. In January 2017, the world’s first Loneliness Minister was appointed in the UK by Prime Minister, Theresa May. The Minister was appointed following a series of recommendations by the Jo Cox Commission on Loneliness in order to carry on the work of the late Jo Cox who was tragically killed before the EU Referendum.
"The first cross government Loneliness Strategy was published in October 2018. As part of the strategy, The Prime Minister confirmed that all GPs in England will be able to refer patients experiencing loneliness to community activities and voluntary services by 2023.
"Loneliness is one of the most pressing issues our society faces today. It impacts upon millions of lives. Now we need swift movement on implementing the loneliness strategy.
"Loneliness is something that can affect anyone or everyone irrespective of age, race or class from the bullied child to the new mother, the pensioner who have outlived their friends and family to teenagers. Research suggests that one in ten appointments is being booked for social interaction.
"We as individuals have a role to play in this. An approach that tackles loneliness from all directions is vital: transport, education, business and health.
"Three quarters of GPs surveyed have said they are seeing between one and five people a day suffering with loneliness, which is linked to a range of damaging health impacts, like heart disease, strokes and Alzheimer’s disease. Around 200,000 older people have not had a conversation with a friend or relative in more than a month.
"The practice known as ‘social prescribing’ will allow GPs to direct patients to community workers offering tailored support to help people improve their health and wellbeing, instead of defaulting to medicine.
"As part of the long-term plan for the NHS, funding will be provided to connect patients to a variety of activities, such as cookery classes, walking clubs and art groups, reducing demand on the NHS and improving patients’ quality of life.
"Up to a fifth of all UK adults feel lonely most or all of the time and with evidence showing loneliness can be as bad for health as obesity or smoking, the Prime Minister has also announced the first ever ‘Employer Pledge’ to tackle loneliness in the workplace.
"A network of high-profile businesses – including Sainsbury’s, Transport for London, Co-op, British Red Cross, National Grid and the Civil Service – have pledged to take further action to support their employees’ health and social wellbeing.
"Loneliness can be detrimental to our health and it’s unacceptable that so many people still suffer in silence from this social injustice and stigma, but also they cut themselves off and so the community suffers. There have been several studies that have identified a range of factors associated with being lonely in old age. These factors include:
Social networks (living alone, being widowed or divorced, a lack of contact with family, friends)
"Health (poor health, limited mobility, social care needs or cognitive and sensory impairment, depression)
Individual characteristics (age, ethnicity, sexual orientation, low income, retirement)
Neighbourhood characteristics (structures of buildings and streets, local amenities, area reputation)
"That’s why it’s so important we are taking concerted action to tackle the problem, building on previous investment in social prescribing schemes to see healthcare professionals play a vital role in signposting people to local community services. Together we can help build connections, address isolation and support both mental and physical health.
"I would like all people in all communities to play their part and take time to connect with others (10 ways to connect poster)
"Together we can end loneliness in Swindon
Update from Swindon Circles – Kati Wood
"Swindon Circles work with Public Health on a range of projects in Swindon, which are funded by Swindon Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG).
"The Big Knit is a project where volunteers collect and distribute knitting needles within the local community, as well as teaching people to knit.
"Forget Me Not Cakes is a project where volunteers bake birthday cakes and provide cards for those suffering from loneliness within the local community who might not have otherwise received one.
"An Intergenerational Pen pal Scheme encourages people within the local community to interact with people of different ages.
"Coffee Connections is a group for people with confidence issues who are experiencing loneliness. The aim of the project is to provide a supportive environment and a stepping stone to accessing the wider community.
"There also Arts and Wellbeing groups, as well as Local Heroes, an organisation which was established in September, where you can sign up for adult volunteering opportunities. This includes walking dogs and providing transport. So far, Local Heroes have received 28 requests with 26 of these being fulfilled.
"We are also looking at who we are missing out on, for example, younger people who may have moved to the area.
"Swindon Circles is running a test project called Neighbourhood Connections who will work with local people to encourage activities and connectivity.
"We need to look at building on the energy and enthusiasm gathered in our summits and sharing information, as well as looking at the opportunity to work collectively.
"Swindon Borough Council want to be part of this network, looking collectively at funding so we can tackle loneliness in Swindon."
Norman Edwards, Care Home Volunteers
Norman explained that loneliness is as bad for you as smoking 15 cigarettes a day and that applies to people in care homes too. Loneliness peaks between the ages of 16 – 24, tails off again and then at 75 plus, rises again.
People in care homes are a part of our community and it is our duty to look after them.
Care Homes Volunteers was initially set up by a group of people whose parents were in care homes. The question they asked was why weren’t their volunteers in care homes like there are in hospitals? The answer to this is that there are recruitment difficulties and many obstacles to overcome. Many people are not aware that they can volunteer in care homes and many are reluctant to because it means forces them to look at their own mortality.
Care Home Volunteers is a befriending service and work on a one to one basis. Volunteers need a lot of support to do this and Care Home Volunteers provide training sessions to help.
Around 1 in 10 people in a care home will receive no visits at all during the time that they are in there and research suggests that social contact for those in a care home is on average just two minutes per day. Loneliness and isolation increases when somebody moves to a care home.
Care Home Volunteers are the only group nationally who are doing something about this in Swindon. They have won a national award for the difference they make to the lives of people in care homes.
Care Home Volunteers is a specialist service which matches volunteers to a person’s individual needs. They often work with people in the advanced stages of dementia by using senses. Quite often, the volunteers themselves are suffering from loneliness.
May Evans – Swindon Senior Forum – Feedback from “What’s Age Got to Do with It” Workshop
There were three speakers at the workshop, which covered intergenerational loneliness.
The ideas discussed included young mums and babies, or those with school age children, visiting people in care homes, as well as linking young, professional people who have recently moved and may be suffering from loneliness, with elderly people in the community.
May asks could a similar scheme be set up with an existing group in Swindon.
Julie Dowie – Swindon Live at Home Scheme Manager
Swindon Live at Home Scheme is run by MHA https://www.mha.org.uk/ an award winning charity providing care, accommodation and support services for over 18,000 older people throughout the UK.
MHA has 33 volunteers in the Swindon area who are recruited through Voluntary Action. The Live at Home Scheme has been working to combat to loneliness for over 30 years and fed into the recent Government Loneliness Strategy.
The scheme is for those over the age of 55 who have either made direct contact, or have been referred. They work with those experiencing mental health issues, physical difficulties, anxiety and depression.
Swindon Live at Home helps those suffering from isolation by providing support with transport and assisting those in poverty by providing financial support. They also help where there has been a family breakdown and assist with issues such as hoarding.
MHA provide free signposting, information and support and are available to answer questions. They organise and run regular lunch clubs, IT courses and gentle exercise classes.
Fiona Prinzi – Charities Workshop
The charities workshop discussed how to reach out to hard to reach members of communities and asked the question, do we all know our organisations here in Swindon and what they do?
The charities workshop also looked at what further can be done to publicise the work taking place locally and what local organisations deliver, as well as sending out a clear message about the people who are being supported.
Further funding is required so that needs are understood and differences are accepted and understood.
Ideas included working with Parish Councils within Swindon to ensure that a good variety of activities are being run.
More charities working together.
Using the My Care, My Support, Live Well Hub
Trying better to understand the needs of the people they are supporting and learning more about them.
Local Employers and Businesses Workshop – Sarah Morris, Director at Santander
The local employers/businesses workshop looked at what employers can do for employees, as well as people within the local community.
The workshop also explored what facilities they are offering to employees and the wider community and the importance of publicising this more.
Ideas included local businesses joining together to share ideas and facilities, as well as information, in order to provide more support and to promote that support.
Santander run Scam Awareness Workshops and Getting Online Workshops.
GPs and Mental Health Leaders Workshop – Dr Eric Holliday and Ivor Bermingham, AWP
This workshop looked at social prescribing and asked the question, is this happening in Swindon? Link workers with Public Health will be on hand to continue to monitor and ensure that this is publicised.
The workshop looked at the various ways to identify Swindon, eg as a town and also as neighbourhoods within the town.
It is recognised that males are generally harder to engage with and the workshop explored ideas on how to engage and to keep men engaged.
Ideas explored included evening activities and pubs! (Thinking outside of the box is important).
Also organising a regular forum where volunteers and organisations could come together regularly to share info, support each other and to help to identify needs.
The workshop also explored the issue of loneliness in young parents and what we can do further to support those.
Issues included funding and finding volunteers.
Transport Workshop – Alex Chutter, Swindon Bus Company
The transport workshop explored long term aspirations including demand response transport. This is a mini bus which links all rural areas up with the wider bus network. Currently there is no funding for this within Swindon; however, this is something that can be explored in the future.
The transport workshop also looked at driver interactions with passengers and how this can be improved and increased, as well as training more drivers to be dementia friendly.
Swindon Bus Company now have a “Chatty Bus” with social seating and the company agreed that they can do more and want to play their part in tackling loneliness in Swindon.
Summing Up – Robert Buckland QC MP
We need to embed loneliness in all policy making locally.
This is our third loneliness event and over the past 18 months or so, we have come together regularly sharing ideas and information.
We now need to ensure that people are held to account and all follow up actions are worked towards before we come together again in the spring of 2019.
We need to look at and seek further funding to tackle loneliness in the town, exploring the Connecting Communities – Building Connections Fund.
I will also make contact with Loneliness Minister, Mims Davies MP, to feedback the work that we are doing here in Swindon and to share our ideas and ask for support with funding.
I want our community to help lead the Country when it comes to tackling the issue of Loneliness.
Update from Kati Wood, Swindon Borough Council, in response to a question ask at our first loneliness summit.
My care My support is essentially a directory of information which is self-populated by both agencies and members of the voluntary and community sector in Swindon to promote services, groups and activities which can support and promote better self-management, self-care and improved wellbeing and connectivity. We have listened to feedback from both customers and people trying to populate the site and recognise that it could be easier to use. As a result-a new platform-"My Life" will be operational by October this year which will have improved accessibility.