Many people feel lonely now and again - but for a worrying number of older people, the feeling of loneliness can be overwhelming and have a damaging impact on physical and mental wellbeing. Half a million older people go at least five or six days a week without seeing or speaking to a single person (Age UK, 2016). Sadly, two fifths of all older people say that the television is their main company (Age UK, 2014).
There are many reasons why older people may feel cut off from their communities – it could be through retirement, disability or illness, no longer being the core of the family, or through the loss of partners and friends. Loneliness and social isolation can lead to depression and other serious health issues, so it is crucial that these issues are addressed.
Devon Highlights is a community project led by Devon Communities Together, that supports older people (aged 55+) living in 6 areas of Devon, who may be at risk of loneliness and isolation. Highlights groups run, every fortnight, in – Chulmleigh (Thursdays, 14.00 – 16.00) Totnes (Wednesdays, 11.00 – 12.30) and Paignton (Fridays, 10.30 – 12.30). Groups are due to launch in Exmouth, Teignmouth and Holsworthy.
Activities at these groups are shaped by the members themselves, according to their interests or hobbies – and so far have included arts and crafts, board games, nature walks, guest speakers, cooking/baking and members hosting cream teas at their home. These warm and welcoming sessions provide individuals with the chance to get to know new people, connect with their local community, explore different activities and interests, and improve their mental and physical wellbeing. Highlights sessions are free to attend and all refreshments are provided.
If you are an individual, or know an individual, who may like to join us socialising, please get in touch.
As well as individuals we are also appealing for contacts to help us strengthen these Highlights groups and the communities where they take place. If you are connected to a group or organisation in Totnes, Paignton, Teignmouth, Chulmleigh, Holsworthy or Exmouth we want to work together to strengthen each other’s work and the community fabric. Additionally, we will run two events, aimed at service providers, in early 2020 to destigmatise loneliness, by sharing stories, best practice, research and creating a space for local contacts to network. If you’d be interested to be on the mailing list for these events let us know.
The Highlights project is supported by the National Lottery’s Community Fund and HM Government – together forming the Building Connections Fund.
READ AN article from the Guardian featuring Ageing Well Without Children, a Devon HIGHLIGHTS partner: 'over 1 million childless people over 65 are "dangerously unsupported" '
To find out more about Devon Highlights, please contact Harry Bonnell by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or calling 01392 248 919.