Hello! My name’s Olly and I’ve recently joined South London Cares as the new Love Your Neighbour Programme Coordinator for Southwark. I’m very excited to start and grateful to the whole Cares team for making me feel so welcome! I’ve volunteered for South London Cares for two years now and my favourite memories are performing at the open mic night fundraiser at Southwark Brewery and attending SLC’s third birthday party in July last year!
In my previous role, working for the British Red Cross, I was responsible for supporting vulnerable older neighbours who were being discharged from a major London hospital. This involved escorting people home and providing six weeks of community support to help keep the neighbours in their homes and out of hospital.
During my time in the role, I met many older neighbours who were living in very difficult situations - both in terms of their health and their lack of social connections. From neighbours with the most complex health needs, to neighbours who only needed short-term support with shopping as they recovered from an illness or operation, the thing that struck me as being the most common issue in their lives was loneliness.
I learnt that loneliness can not only exacerbate illnesses, but that it can also act as a major contributing factor to the root causes of people’s health problems. With this in mind, and considering the current strain on the NHS, it is plain to see that loneliness is an issue that people need to consider - just as they do with physical health issues - and we all need to work towards tackling it. Fortunately, we are starting to see the issues of loneliness and isolation being discussed more frequently in parliament and in the media; whilst this is certainly a positive change, it is imperative that we continue to raise awareness around these issues and support older neighbours, as well as each other, on a smaller scale in our day-to-day lives.
The impact of loneliness, however, is not only felt by our older neighbours, but by younger neighbours as well. As our city changes and our pace of life becomes faster and faster, it is often people’s social connections that suffer as a result. This leads to loneliness amongst younger people - as displayed by a recent study by the Office of National Statistics which stated that millennials (or people in their twenties or thirties) are the demographic most at risk of chronic loneliness in this country. It is clear that, as younger people, we have a great deal more in common with our older neighbours than we might think.
One of the main things that attracted me to the role at South London Cares was the work that the Cares Family does to promote a culture of connection, inclusion and friendship in our communities across age groups; the effects of which are huge and can be traced through the inspiring stories from the Love Your Neighbour Programme friendship matches and Social Clubs.
South London Cares is an integral part of a wider, nationwide movement to tackle loneliness and I’m very proud to be joining the team as the new Love Your Neighbour Programme Coordinator for Southwark.
If you have any questions, or would just like to say, “Hi”, please do drop me a message on [email protected].
I hope to meet you soon!
Posted by Oliver Wareham on Wednesday 24th October 2018
Oliver is the Programme Coordinator for Love Your Neighbour in Southwark, connecting younger and older neighbours for one-to-one weekly visits and longterm friendship. Before joining the team, Oliver worked for the British Red Cross’ Independent Living service supporting older neighbours returning home after a stay in St. Thomas’ Hospital.