Presentation by - Phil Hayes (Rotherfed), Julie (Live Inclusive) and Hayley (Lets Befriend)
The Chair welcomed Phil Hayes (RotherFed), Hayley Rundle (B:Friend) and Julie Hodgkinson (Live Inclusive), who gave a verbal presentation on the work that had been taking place on loneliness and befriending during the Covid pandemic.
- The initiative had started in a response to the pandemic in March 2020 involving some of the key VCF partners
- The Community Hub and Rotherham Heroes had been formed but very early on it had become quite clear that it was not only the practical issues of food and medicine but loneliness, isolation and disconnection were big issues too
- Resources had been deployed to make contact and had also combined forces with other providers including B:Friend, Live Inclusive, Rema, Rotherham Parents and Carers Forum, CAB, so as not to duplicate services. It became a formal network and met on a monthly basis
- Many of the calls were around welfare as much as financial issues and the clients received support much more quickly than they would have
- The next stage was to try to get people integrated into their community and how to do that
- It was not just older people but also young parents who had no-one else to talk to apart from their children
- Some of the volunteers were originally recipients of the service with their confidence having grown to such an extent as to enable them to offer support to others
- A small independent charity
- Normally worked with those referred via their GP as part of social prescribing, however, it had become quite apparent that their needs were quite different to what assessed as before the Government lockdown announcement e.g. they could not see their grandchildren etc.
- Loneliness was a massive issue
- Previously the focus had been on supporting clients in community groups; now it was to get them to go outside of their house
- Dedicated team of volunteers
- The community groups were not there presently for them to go to
- Close working in the VCS
- 2 case studies provided to illustrate the work of the project
- The project paired up local people from the community with old people who needed extra company for as long as they wanted it to be
- Live Inclusive would refer clients in who needed longer term support
- Approximately 600 pairings in the last year 78 of which were in Rotherham
Shafiq Hussain, VAR, reported that it was Volunteer Week shortly and there was a series of events planned with a spotlight on volunteers and the impact/benefit of them.
It was also important, as part of the collective recovery plan, to help the community groups start up again and identify where the gaps were.
It was noted that the Neighbourhoods Team had produced guidance on the opening of community buildings which was in the process of being circulated more widely.
Phil, Julie and Hayley were thanked for their presentation.
Resolved:- That an all Member seminar on Loneliness and Befriending be held in September, 2021.