People Helping People: Impact Volunteering Trials
Social isolation is affecting more than 1 million older people in UK according to a report from Age UK. People who experience social isolation feel removed from others and their community and this can significantly impact on their health.
The influence of isolation and loneliness on the risk of death is comparable with smoking and alcohol consumption, and exceeds the influence of physical inactivity and obesity in reducing an individual's overall wellbeing and increasing their reliance on the public services.
Social isolation can be tackled by strengthening social networks to increase people’s wellbeing, create opportunities for active citizenship and generating cost savings for public services. A number of initiatives are currently being implemented in Essex, including in Basildon, Maldon and Uttlesford districts, and seek to identify local issues around social isolation and loneliness, understand how people may benefit from some support, where volunteering opportunities exist, which community organisations can play a role in supporting volunteers and how together communities can build stronger connections.
Getting Active in Basildon
Partners within the Basildon District have identified improving physical activity and reducing social isolation among older people as key strategic challenges that could be addressed by a behaviour change campaign focused on recruiting volunteers. Pitsea has been identified as the area that would benefit from such an intervention.
Boosting voluntary action in this area will further contribute towards the facilitation of better inter-generational relationships; alleviation of demand management pressures on public services; and employability and wellbeing benefits for the volunteers themselves.
A new partnership campaign has begun in Pitsea to recruit ‘Community Ambassadors’, experienced over-55 year olds who want to make a difference by helping out their local community. The volunteers are being asked to support peers and older people in improving their physical activity as well as reducing loneliness of those who are being supported.
This initiative, working with The Campaign Company, is being supported by the Basildon CVS, Essex County Council, and Basildon Borough Council.