Introducing our new outreach approach to building friendship and connection

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Over the past 6 years, South London Cares’ Winter Wellbeing project has helped older neighbours across Southwark and Lambeth stay warm, safe, active and connected during the coldest time of the year: October to March. Each year, depending on the severity of the weather and the changing needs of our community, the project has looked a little bit different.

During the last six months, we’ve all felt loneliness. We’ve not been able to embrace loved ones, celebrate birthdays, or dance at weddings. We’ve not been allowed to grieve at funerals, visit care homes or even share a smile with a stranger from behind a mask. These restrictions have affected older and younger people alike – but we know that many older people in our community have found them particularly hard.

This year, as further restrictions are put in place to curb the threat of coronavirus, we will again be adapting our outreach to help better connect our communities. Although we know that isolation can be exacerbated in winter, we also know that its debilitating impact is felt year-round. That’s why we’re retiring the seasonal Winter Wellbeing project so that we can deploy our proactive outreach throughout the entire year.

We’ll do this because we know that over recent months, the closure of community centres, separation from friends and family, cancellation of hospital appointments, lack of access to the internet, sudden reliance on shopping services or mutual aid groups, and the ever-present fear of falling ill are issues that have dominated the lives of many older people. In that context, we’re redoubling our efforts to help older neighbours find the connection they need.

So, our year-round outreach at South London Cares now involves:

  • Calling hundreds of older neighbours to check-in and connect them to our virtual and phone-in social clubs (and face-to-face when it’s safe to do so).
  • Matching older neighbours with younger friends for regular phone calls, conversation, and friendship (and visits when feasible).
  • Supporting older neighbours to navigate tech through our one-to-one Zoom tutorials and other practical learning sessions.
  • Connecting older people to help with practical tasks like shopping and prescription deliveries.
  • Helping over 65s to access health services, information on where to get a flu jab and up-to-date advice during the coronavirus pandemic.
  • Arranging small grants to help people in difficult circumstances overcome the barriers to connection.
  • Introducing neighbours to other local activities hosted by our wonderful partners in the local community, as well as supporting with benefits and housing advice.

How you or your organisation can get involved

There are various ways you or your organisation can get involved with us:

  • Make a referral for anyone over 65 who lives in Southwark or Lambeth
  • Invite us to your team meetings or outreach events to talk about our programmes and answer any questions
  • Display leaflets and posters
  • Add South London Cares’ information to any mail-outs that get sent to your network
  • Encourage your teams to join our Community Partner mailing list
  • Share with us information about your services and how to refer to you

To find out more about our work please call 0207 118 0404 or email Matt on [email protected].

Matt Scaysbrook

Posted by Matt Scaysbrook on Tuesday 27th October 2020

Matt manages our growing volunteer network, and leads on reaching older south Londoners - introducing them to South London Cares and our programmes. Previously Matt worked as a Personal Trainer in various parts of London, and before that was an officer with the Metropolitan Police.

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