SWANAGE Linking Lives uses phone calls and home visits to bring company, friendship and compassion while tackling loneliness and isolation among older people.
The group was awarded Dorset Community Foundation funding for a volunteer and client co-ordinator as part of a £3,000 grant to the Swanage and Purbeck Development Trust from our Neighbourhood Fund.
Project supervisor Alan Dominy said the visits and call are essential for older folk who may not see anyone from one day to the next, particularly during and after the lockdowns. “We are particularly concerned with social isolation and loneliness within the community. Our particular focus is on older people. We observe a wide range of mental health issues, many as a result of isolation,” he said.
Mr Dominy said the co-ordinator role is essential to the project. “She looks after the home visiting and phone support aspects as well as liaising with the drop-in. She seeks out, interviews and trains volunteers, visits all potential clients and tries to match them with appropriate volunteers,” he said.
“She then monitors the ongoing relationship, providing support where necessary and maintains active contact with referrers, mainly social service and health professionals.”
Having regular contact can reduce isolation and anxiety and it is known to improve general health and make people less reliant on health services. Just chatting about the weather, the garden or the news is something we all tale for granted but being alone denies people these simple pleasures and can lead to them becoming withdrawn. Being unable to voice concerns or discuss even the most trivial day-to-day worries can amplify them and lead to more stress and anxiety.
The group accepts referrals from statutory organisations such as social workers, social prescribers, GP’s and community health practitioners, charities, friends and family members or self-referrals. Its main criteria for admission to the scheme is clear evidence of social isolation and that the service is being requested by the person concerned. For further details please contact the group on 07495 534171.