Ruth Fletcher Brown, Public Health, to present
Consideration was given to a presentation by Public Health Specialist, Ruth Fletcher-Brown. and Public Health Practitioner Apprentice, Kelsey Broomhead, in respect of a refresh of the Loneliness Action Plan. The Plan had been developed pre-pandemic. Loneliness was noted as a contributing factor mental and physical health. The presentation noted achievements across partner organisations during the pandemic, not only among older people but across the life course.
The Partners represented on the Better Mental Health for All Group include:
· Children, Young People and Families Consortium
· Healthwatch Rotherham
· NHS South Yorkshire
· RDaSH (mental health provider)
· Rotherham NHS Foundation Hospital Trust
· RMBC- Adult Care, Housing and Public Health (including Neighbourhoods)
· RMBC Children and Young People’s Services
· RMBC Communications
· RMBC Culture, Sport and Tourism Service, Regeneration and Environment
· Rotherham Federation
· Rotherham United Community Sports Trust (RUCST)
· South Yorkshire Police
The local and national picture around loneliness was presented, as demonstrated by the Office for National Statistics (ONS). The latest annual report for tackling loneliness (February 2022) is still following 3 overarching objectives:
1. Reduce stigma by building a national conversation on loneliness, so that people feel able to talk about loneliness and reach out for help.
2. Drive a lasting shift so that relationships and loneliness are considered in policymaking and delivery by organisations across society, supporting and amplifying the impact of organisations that are connecting people.
3. Play our part in improving the evidence base on loneliness, making a compelling case for action, and ensuring everyone have the information they need to make informed decisions through challenging times.
The strong message from the report was that tackling loneliness will require a response from public sector staff, employers and businesses, communities, and individuals. These organisations working together as one will lead to a more connected society.
The COVID-19 impact and risk factors for loneliness were noted. Vulnerable groups identified in Rotherham as part of the refresh of the loneliness action plan with stakeholders were:
· Young people
· Domestic abuse victims
· Ukraine refugees
· People with learning difficulties (such as autism)
Helpful resources on loneliness were provided, as well as an outline of the key aims, objectives, and associated actions. Key aims were:
· Aim 1. To make loneliness everyone’s responsibility.
· Aim 2. Improving how organisations and services in Rotherham connect people at risk of experiencing loneliness to support.
· Aim 3. Make it easier for people living and working in Rotherham to access information about local community groups, activities and support services for loneliness.
· Aim 4. Spread good practice and encourage knowledge sharing on tackling loneliness across Rotherham.
The presentation also described a call for evidence. Evidence would be considered at the stakeholder meeting, which ensured that the refreshed Plan linked into existing plans and strategies to emphasise collective responsibility. The Plan was being progressed through the Better Mental Health for All Group.
In ensuing discussion, the following points were raised/clarified:
· Potential links complementing social prescribing which would be further defined by the stakeholder group.
· Ongoing conversations with library staff to find out how to further promote the offer of warm spaces at thirteen libraries.
· The continued work of the befriending network facilitated through RotherFed, linking up with libraries through “Warm Welcome.” Not all the offer from Warm Welcome available in Rotherham was online, so further updates to the live online document were warranted.
Resolved:- That the Loneliness Action Plan be endorsed as a live Plan.