It's #LonelinessAwarenessWeek and after a year of shielding, lockdowns and self isolation, we all know what loneliness feels like.
Throughout the Covid-19 crisis, East London Cares has worked tirelessly to tackle loneliness and isolation amongst older and younger people alike. We have re-formulated our core programmes (Social Clubs, Love Your Neighbour and Outreach) to keep our community connected from a distance, during this disconnecting time.
Despite this, according to a recent British Red Cross survey, around two in five (39%) of UK adults don't think their feelings of loneliness will go away after the crisis and almost a third (32%) said they were concerned about not being able to connect with people in person, in the way they did prior to the pandemic.
Therefore, our work won’t stop once restrictions have eased. To move forward together, we need to ensure no one is left behind.
The difference you can make
This summer, we need your help to keep our community connected through an accessible range of activities.
Help neighbours to connect
Throughout lockdown, many of our older neighbours have been waiting for the moment they can reconnect face to face at our Social Clubs and with their Love Your Neighbour friends.
“Speaking to David is the highlight of my week! I can’t wait until we can meet up in person.” - Lucy, 29
However, for many, due to mobility, health or lack of confidence, our remote activities remain essential to keep neighbours connected. "They've made a massive difference… they've helped ground me, and keep me sane” Joan, 74
Over the coming summer months, we need to make sure we support both groups by offering a mix of both in-person and remote activities.
For our Social Clubs, we will not only run face to face activities in small groups, but also continue to offer the opportunity to connect via Zoom, as well as via phone.
Through our Love Your Neighbour programme, individuals unable to connect in-person will continue to be engaged remotely, on the phone, while those who would like to meet safely in-person can enjoy face to face connection for the first time in months.
By ensuring we offer a wide range of different opportunities to engage and connect, we will work hard to ensure no one is left behind.
Re-engaging our community
Throughout the pandemic, we have worked tirelessly to keep older and younger neighbours connected, whether that be online or via the phone. Since April 2020, we’ve connected over 350 older neighbours and 100 younger neighbours to our programmes.
However, we need to do more. Many older neighbours who participated in our activities prior to the pandemic haven’t engaged with our remote activities. We need to ensure that these older neighbours don’t fall between the gaps.
That’s why, over the coming months we will work to re-engage these neighbours.
We will identify those who have not participated recently, call and write letters to them, offering our community support and inviting them to participate in our face to face and remote activities. For those who are lacking confidence, digital skills or face other barriers to engaging, we will offer tailored support to help them re-connect once again, including one-to-one tech support, regular check in calls, and much more.
Reaching out to new neighbours
Our proactive Outreach team is always looking for ways to engage with new neighbours, as Hackney and Tower Hamlets are both areas of high concern for chronic loneliness according to a recent study by AGE UK.
Over the next year, we want to welcome 100 new older neighbours to our work. We will achieve this by expanding our growing network of 74 community partner organisations, who refer older neighbours into our programmes, and running information sharing sessions, to help older neighbours overcome socio-economic barriers to leading active social lives.
How you can help
To make this possible, we need your support.
By donating, you’ll help to make these vital activities possible and a little really does go a long way.
- £10 could fund a re-engagement phone call, connecting an older neighbour to our community once again
- £25 could fund a monthly Virtual Social activity so older and younger neighbours can enjoy the summer together from afar
- £100 could support a new one to one friendship, either on the phone or in-person