Will the Council set up specific arrangements to assist with Loneliness, which is currently impacting on many residents across the Borough? It not only impacts on the older population, but during this pandemic it is impacting on younger people as well. Existing issues that were present before are now becoming increasingly chronic.
This Council needs to consider and work at three levels to address loneliness: -
One to one:
Will the Council set up specific arrangements to assist with loneliness, which is currently impacting on many residents across the Borough? It not only impacts on the older population but during this pandemic it is impacting on younger people as well. Existing issues that were present before are now becoming increasingly chronic.
This Council needs to consider and work at three levels to address loneliness:
One to one:
We already working in several key ways to address this.
First of all on a neighbourhood level we are very aware that Covid has significantly contributed to many residents feeling lonely and isolated. The Council many months ago set up the Wokingham Borough Community Response and one of the key aims was to provide welfare calls to vulnerable and lonely residents. The Council has funded additional money into The Link Visiting Scheme to increase their befriending scheme which involves one to one and group work and that is all about supporting a reduction in loneliness.
The Council has also for many months funded the One Front Door service, which is operated by the CAB, and widely publicised the number at many opportunities so that vulnerable residents, including those experiencing loneliness, can contact One Front Door to get the support needed. During the Covid-19 outbreak we have supported several thousand residents in need. As part of this local Covid groups have formed right across the Borough and these groups have provided a responsive neighbourhood support service to aim to get a real community approach to supporting people in need.
So to give you the latest figures on welfare calls in the last two weeks we have made 6,500. 1800 people already known to Adult Social Care have been contacted. 4,700 calls and letters to other vulnerable people on the Government list. 150 referrals from that have gone to the CAB and 110 referrals to the Link Befriending Service.
That means that our proactive work has been all about picking up people who are suffering from loneliness and we are trying to do something about it.
On top of that we have the Wokingham Wellbeing Board Strategy which identified social isolation as one of its three key priorities. It set up a sub group involving the Council, the voluntary sector and Health and this reports on a regular basis to the Wellbeing Board. The Wokingham Integrated Partnership has an agreed work programme and this is specifically a project supporting isolation. This Partnership has involved the setting up of a Friendship Alliance, which is the Council, Involve, AgeUk, The LINK and the Wokingham Volunteer Centre. We have spent over £100k funding this project. This was initiated circa 12 months ago and is progressing well. Key parts of this project are:
· Expansion of the Volunteer Transport Scheme;
· Establishing a network of Friendship Champions across the Borough;
· Undertaking community engagement work; and
· The ‘Link Express’ which will involve a small group of well trained volunteers visiting older people within 2 to 3 weeks of referral to begin the process of improving mood and wellbeing through social connection.
So yes I agree with you that loneliness is a key priority for us. It is a key thing and we are very much aware that people are in need across our Borough and need help with this. We are doing a lot of things to try and do something about it.
It is nice to know that there is so much comprehensive work being done. Can you quantify your success in terms of where we were, where we are going to and so forth? Can you quantify that because it is quite, quite varied?
This is obviously a difficult thing to measure because you are talking about people’s emotional health. I think the best way I could quantify it right here, right now is obviously referring to the statistic I quoted earlier which is from the phone calls we have made that we have picked up 110 people who have said to us, when we have proactively called them, that they are lonely and they need help and they need someone to talk to basically. That is 110 referrals to The Lind Befriending Service. Now The Link Befriending Services is something we are funding. It is something we are supporting. It is something we are promoting and it specifically exists to help people and I am sure that he will not mind me saying this but Councillor Halsall is one of those volunteers who is ringing people up, talking to people on a regular basis, to try and make sure that they are not alone.
We are very aware of our role to support the vulnerable and needy in our community during this difficult time and to make sure that no one is left behind.
So in answer to your question that is probably the easiest answer I can give you tonight. We are continuing down this road because we know it is the right thing to do and the feedback we are getting, which I would be happy to share with you, through the individual e-mails I have received tells us that it is the right thing to do.
Response from the Leader of Council
If I could add to that Tahir I was speaking today by invitation to a group of CCGs and health workers, some 200 leaders in the Health sector, and they were exemplifying our neighbourhood approach and what a model approach to reach out to our community, particularly in this area.