The issue of loneliness has become the centre of attention this week with the UK-wide National Loneliness Week shining a light on a prominent issue in society and what we can do to help.
The subject of loneliness is arguably more poignant than it ever has been with the nation having to adapt to a new way of life over the past few months, but social isolation remains a prominent issue which affects many households in Merseyside, even before the Government’s lockdown procedure in March.
Everton in the Community delivers a number of programmes aimed at tackling social isolation amongst the older members of its local community and runs daily sessions which promote social interaction and bespoke activities to those currently experiencing limited social contact.
For instance, the charity works with NHS Liverpool Clinical Commissioning Group for its ‘Stand Together’ programme, which outside of the pandemic is delivered four times a week for individuals aged 75 and older who are at risk of being socially isolated.
Another programme – ‘Pass on the Memories’ delivered in collaboration with Mersey Care NHS Foundation Trust supports people living with dementia and their carers, and encourages participant engagement through a range of interventions, from sporting reminiscence workshops and custom-made life story memory books, which helps people share important memories and creates new ones.
Other programmes such as Everton Veterans’ Hub, Hanging Up Our Boots Together, Imagine your Goals and Girls On Side also deliver tailored activities for the purpose of a select group of participants who are at risk of social isolation. For many of the charity’s participants, these programmes are a core part of their social life, making it all the more important for the charity to keep in contact following the suspension of all Everton in the Community activity in March.
The range of help to our participants is part of a wider campaign that the charity, alongside the Club have been running since the pandemic, aptly named, Blue Family.
Since the Blue Family campaign was launched three months ago, more than 1,000 applications have been received for support and assistance through the Blue Family referral service, whilst 6,200 check in calls have been made with the charity’s participants, supporters and residents living within the Blue Mile.
One of many members of staff who have been ensuring the charity connects with its participants over the last few months is Activity Coordinator, Lee Johnson, who enforces the importance of the charity’s work over the last few months.
“We have worked on supporting people through some very upsetting times during this period” said Lee, who has worked to ensure our participants from our older person programmes are engaged and supported.
“We’ve been making regular contact to our participants through phone calls and we’ve made sure participants have enough credit on their phones so they can call us any time, whilst we’ve dropped off food parcels which were kindly donated by Relish, Liverpool.
“Through the most difficult times, everybody needs some light relief. We’ve provided jigsaws to keep minds ticking over, and we’ve also had the pleasure of still being able to celebrate occasions such as birthdays and anniversaries. The feedback we get from this is emotional as it is positive.”
💙 There for you then, here for you now.— Everton in the Community (@EITC) June 19, 2020
📆 13 weeks to the day since we launched #BlueFamily - the response and support from everyone has been magnificent since - but there's still work to be done.
📩 Make a referral ➡️ https://t.co/dsZLoioIWn pic.twitter.com/u9v801nLD9
The team have also looked to replicate the charity’s programmes virtually. Participants from our older person’s programmes have been sent videos each week of different entertainers who they are use to seeing regularly, known as ‘The Blue Base Buzz’ which have complemented regular coffee mornings and quizzes.
For some of the more physical engaging programmes, Everton in the Community staff have been putting their participants through their paces with tailored online workouts, making sure individuals remain engaged with our programmes and their fellow participants as much as possible.
National Loneliness Week looks to encourage the conversation of being lonely and looks at ways in which we can help ourselves and each other.
Activity Coordinator Lee Johnson adds: “Loneliness can affect us all. It’s important that if you’re feeling lonely, you reach out for help, whether it be a friend, a family member or even further support through a health service.
“If you know somebody who you feel may be at risk of feeling lonely – reach out to them, pick up the phone, write a letter, anything you can to stay connected.”