The Community Builder Team currently consists of 4 paid staff (part-time)and approximately 40 volunteers currently working with older residents to reduce loneliness and social isolation. We act as a catalyst for change. We find a free venue and invite the community in for a cuppa and a chat. Some play games, knit and natter or share stories and experiences. Once established, we find volunteers to support the running of the weekly activities. We now have 20 clubs across Harlow, run monthly events or outings and have supported over 600 older residents to feel connected, happier, and to meet new people. We have had fantastic success so far with wonderful feedback such as this:
'One particular gentleman, asked me what I was doing for Christmas and as I have no one else in my life, I replied that I was doing nothing. He instantly turned to me and said, yes you are, you’re coming to my house.
I have made wonderful connections, new friends and I can start to think a bit more positively and not feel lonely anymore. '
We work with many volunteers that are often lonely or socially isolated themselves, without whom the project would not be the success that it is:
I am living in a permitted housing development in Harlow and my family live out of the area.
I have met new friends and enjoy working with the Rainbow team. I was feeling lonely & socially isolated this has helped build my confidence and I now feel part of the local community.
Harlow has many communities of people - young, working, diverse ethnicity, newly moved to the area into social housing with no friends or family, on low incomes - who are experiencing isolation. We want to use our experience from working with older people to replicate the success of reducing their loneliness with these other communities.
Our vision is that residents of Harlow are connected, confident and happy.
We will do this through building social and activity networks within identified areas or specific communities, working with individuals to build their confidence, self esteem, skills and networks. Finally, we will build the ability of the communities to continue to manage their activities and networks themselves, and even share their skills with others.