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social isolation

Working together to End Loneliness in North Tyneside

Loneliness is an issue that is growing in awareness in our society. The Government recently launched a new website – Let’s Talk Loneliness – to bring together organisations, resources and inspirational stories to get more people talking about loneliness. One of their first case studies featured Minn Marshall, a beneficiary of North Tyneside VODA’s Good Neighbours project, which looks to team up volunteers to provide support to isolated residents in North Tyneside with small tasks and errands typically associated with a good neighbour.  

Minnan 89 year old resident of North Tynesidewas put in touch with the project by her warden when she started struggling with her shopping. Minn now attends Good Neighbour’s weekly shopping trip, supported by one of our volunteers. Minn said: “I really look forward to Tuesdays now and don’t know where I’d be without the Good Neighbours. 

VODA has managed the Good Neighbours project in North Tyneside for a number of years, including a weekly supported shopping trip to Tesco in North Shields and volunteers who use their skills to help out beneficiaries with odd jobs that they can no longer manage themselves. We recently secured funding to expand this project to the west of the borough and have appointed a new project coordinator to recruit new volunteers and beneficiaries to support this growth. Part of this expansion is a new weekly shopping trip to Morrisons Killingworth every Thursday at 1pm. If you would like to find out more, or to get involved, please contact jen.hewitt@voda.org.uk

This winter, as part of the North Tyneside Winter Support Network, VODA facilitated the distribution of keep warm packs and emergency food packs to residents who need extra support during the winter months. The keep warm packs included a fleece blanket, hot water bottle, thermometer, thermo mug, thermal socks, hats, gloves and snood. Alongside this, volunteers have made almost 200 draught excluders so far, which have been distributed to the Bay Foodbank and Walking With in North Tyneside.   


In 2019, 
VODA secured funding for a new partnership – Ending Loneliness in North Tyneside  to bring together like minded organisations to work in collaboration to tackle social isolation and loneliness in the borough Over the next four years VODA, Age UK, Citizens Advice and North Tyneside Carer’s Centre will be increasing our capacity to deliver services that improve people’s wellbeing and increase their connections within the community. Whether it’s volunteering, attending groups or engaging in social activity, each organisation in the partnership can provide a wide range of activities for all ages to reduce feelings of loneliness.  The partnership launched in Killingworth on Thursday 6 February as part of ‘Time to Talk Day’ 2020. 

VODA’s Ending Loneliness Project coordinator has also been working to identify new ways of working when tackling social isolation and loneliness. North Tyneside has a wealth of activity and community groups available to residents, but information can prove difficult to find. That’s why the partnership keen to increase awareness and public engagement with the SIGN Directory.  

The SIGN Directory is an online directory of over 200 providers of community services and events for the residents of North Tyneside. Based on the information available on the SIGN, Directory, VODA has produced the first in a series of ward-focused information booklets which list activities based on health, socialising, volunteering, learning and mental wellbeing. ’Things to do in Wallsend and Howden’ is available via GP surgeries, community venues, local libraries and the VODA website, with leaflets for other wards currently in development. 

Happy to Chat is another initiative that launched this winter. VODA is working in collaboration with members of the SIGN Network and Whitley Bay Big Local to develop Happy to Chat schemes across North Tyneside to help reduce loneliness and social isolation. The aim is to recruit volunteers who are willing to Chat Happily with other residents who would like company or conversation. The aim is to encourage people to show kindness to one another, take time to listen to others and make connections in the local community.

Volunteers will wear Happy to Chat badges so that people know they can approach them to chat. The scheme will then hopefully be extended to include cafes that are willing to host a Happy to Chat table on a regular basis, with volunteers available to sit and chat with people who would like to chat. Launch events were held at the end of January at the Beacon Centre in North Shields and Whitley Bay Big Local, with fortnightly events (Tuesdays 10am to 12pm) held at the Beacon Centre and regular events at Whitley Bay Big Local

To find out more email admin@voda.org.uk or call 0191 643 2626.  

You can search for activities and events on the SIGN Directory here

 

 

 

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How being a Good Neighbour can really make a difference

As part of North Tyneside Council’s #WhoCares week, we want to share this lovely Good Neighbours case study with you to show the difference volunteering can make to both the volunteer and the beneficiary’s life…

Janet Ross Good Neighbours VolunteerFor many years Janet Ross from Forrest Hall had informally helped her local community alongside her full-time job. However, after taking early retirement, Janet took the step to sign up to volunteering through VODA as a way of keeping active in the community and meeting some new people.

She joined the Good Neighbours project in early 2019 with the aim of helping someone locally with odd jobs typical of a ‘Good Neighbour’. VODA supports and trains volunteers to become Good Neighbours and carry out small jobs for people in North Tyneside who are unable to do them independently.

Janet offers to do little jobs for people, such as picking up little bits of shopping or dropping round soup on a cold day. She fits volunteering around her busy schedule and says that while these tasks take hardly any time out of her day, they actually make a big difference to the people she visits.

Janet likes that she can be of practical help, which can help bring communities closer. Speaking of her experience visiting housebound older people, Janet says: “I am inspired by people’s resilience to hardship and their acceptance of difficult situations. This is something that drives my passion for volunteering as I can use my skill base to make a difference to people’s lives. Although I initially signed up to help people in my local area, I have since found that I get more out of volunteering than I could have ever imagined.”

In addition to odd jobs Janet decided to take on some regular tasks for Good Neighbours. VODA’s Good Neighbours project worker, Ian Brigstock, matched Janet with Joan who is of a similar age and lives close to her home in Forrest Hall. Joan finds getting out of the house difficult so Janet visits her weekly. With some support and a friendly face to rely on, Joan and Janet have been able to take trips to The Rising Sun Country Park and local cafes for lunch.  The two have developed a unique bond through Good Neighbours and Janet plans to take Joan to a Motown dancing event in November, something which Joan hasn’t been able to enjoy for many years.

Joan was referred into Good Neighbours through the re-ablement team for some social contact as she had struggled with agoraphobia for many years.

The pair meet regularly every week and Joan says: “Ian (Brigstock) could not have done a better job at matching me with Janet as she is the same age and has a number of similar interests. Janet has become someone that I can trust; I struggle with anxiety and find leaving the house difficult. Janet has been a great support in helping me tackle my anxieties; she is always there to calm me down when things get too much.”

Janet and Joan often take trips out into the local community for lunch or social activities, and Joan is confident that Janet won’t leave her alone if she becomes anxious when out and about. Janet has played a big part in pushing Joan out of her comfort zone and building confidence.

Janet has supported Joan to use the computer to get quotes for repaving her garden; the work has since been done and has transformed the garden into a space that Joan and her little dog can enjoy spending time in. Janet will be teaching Joan the basics of gardening and helping her to plant spring bulbs. In return Joan has helped Janet with jigsaw puzzles and given her bags of apples to bake with. Joan has such a caring nature and by being able to help Janet with small odd jobs has boosted her confidence and self esteem massively.

Joan commented that: ‘We have become genuine friends through the Good Neighbours project. I admire Janet so much, she gives me hope when times are difficult. But is not just about that, because we’re friends now we help each other out, it’s nice to be able to give something back and offer support to Janet should she need it. I’ll often pop round to collect her for a trip out or offer help with projects. I tell myself regularly – If Janet can do it, I can do it…. she gives me inspiration and I can’t thank her enough.”

Janet commented: “I’m so pleased with the support from Good Neighbours during my volunteering. I meet up with other volunteers on a regular basis and it’s wonderful to feel valued and part of a group who care about the community.”

This winter, if you’ve got a spare couple of minutes, why not check in on an older neighbour?  Your visit to see if they need any shopping or help clearing their icy pathways could really make their week.

Contact a Good Neighbours worker on 0191 643 2626 or email admin@voda.org.uk.

 

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Carer Innovation Fund

The Carer Innovation Fund aims to support accessible, carer-friendly communities and public services and also seeks to provide evidence on effective interventions to support carers.

Through the development of technological solutions or community-based interventions, projects might consider how to:

  • ensure carers have access to advice and information to support them in their caring role.
  • increase the provision of carers’ breaks locally.
  • connect carers with other carers and the wider community.
  • prevent crises through early intervention.

The process for the fund will be divided into three phases – idea generation, idea development and idea implementation.

Through the assessment of the applications received through phase 1, the funders will look to identify between 15 to 20 projects that will be awarded an initial funding instalment of up to £25,000 to develop their idea (phase 2).

No deadline given.

Read more and apply here.

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