Agenda item

Presentation from Social Isolation providers - Mind, Age UK, Fit Reds (Cen.06.07.2022/3)


Audra Pratt, from Mind Rotherham and Barnsley, was welcomed to the meeting to provide an overview of the Thriving Communities Loneliness and Isolation Project. 


Members were provided statistics and data in relation to social isolation and loneliness nationally. It was noted that over 9 million adults were always or often lonely. The project was launched in April 2021 to try and tackle this issue within the Central Council Area.   Examples were given of the type of initiatives arranged. These included Men’s Chill and Chat sessions, individual 1-2-1 sessions with befrienders, an Eco Gym, a lades group, and Community Workshops.  The service also supported volunteers, signposted service users to other support and worked closely in partnership with a number of agencies and groups.


Members heard of further initiatives planned, which included an Online Support Group, which would enable those less mobile to engage, and a Creative Crafts group which would be held in partnership with Oakwell Training.


Feedback from users was extremely positive, with 100% of those sampled agreeing that the quality of service was excellent.  In addition 88% had said they felt less lonely or isolated as a result of the service, with 12% somewhat less isolated and lonely.  100% said they would recommend the service.  Members noted a number of case studies and comments provided by users, demonstrating the positive impact the service had made on their lives.  Audra gave thanks to the staff and volunteers involved in the delivery of this service.


Members asked about delivery in Wards, and it was noted that all provision was provided centrally, but promotion was undertaken in each of the wards. Many users said they enjoyed travelling to access the service.  It was noted that those unable to do so would be able to access online and phone-based support.


Those present discussed the promotion of the service, and it was noted that social media was used widely alongside more traditional methods.  Suggestions were made to utilise community notice boards, and Members agreed to support making links with local organisations such as schools.


Kieron Campbell, from Reds in the Community, was welcomed to discuss the Reds Connect project.  Members heard how Reds in the Community was the charitable arm of the football club, which aimed to harness the power of the club to create positive change.  The Reds Connect project was set up to provide more opportunities for people to engage, participate and connect. Ideally this would support physical and also mental wellbeing, reducing isolation and social isolation.

Members noted the delivery model, which included walking football, walking groups, exercise classes, and sporting memories sessions.  Members noted 1,386 attendances from 101 unique users, and that users were also connecting with each other outside of the project, therefore creating benefits sustainable in the longer term. Members were provided quotes from users, which demonstrated the positive impact on their lives.


Questions were asked around supporting those individuals hard to reach, and it was noted that the project wasn’t specifically focused on this area but would support anyone who chose to engage, including signposting through a wider network of partners to the most appropriate support.


Members discussed the increase in numbers of women accessing walking football and the positive impact of this.


Tracy Hughes – Age UK Barnsley was welcomed to the meeting to provide an overview of the My Community, My Life Service.  Details of the service were provided, which covered the five wards of the area and included 1 to 1 support, arranging groups, partnership working, support from a Social Inclusion Officer and Information and Advice Officer, and support for volunteers to assist in the delivery of the service enabling them to gain confidence and increase their skills.


Members heard of the impact of the Information and Advice Officer, who had help residents in the area gain an additional £151,000 benefits.


Members heard of the groups and activities arranged, these included Walking Football, a Community Allotment , a Walking Group at Wentworth Castle Gardens, Coffee and Conversation in Worsbrough, and a Men-in-Sheds group.  Noted were the significant numbers engaged, and the positive impact this had on their lives.

Those present heard of the work with partners such as Barnsley U3A to engage users in wider activities, and of the Digital Project, where residents were given support to use tablet computers.

Member praised the work and asked to be kept informed of groups and activities through the Area Council Manager, so that these could be promoted.


All those present placed on record their thanks for officers and volunteers delivering the projects and commended their hard work which had resulted on the positive impact on the lives of the residents engaged.


RESOLVED that thanks be given for the presentations and for the hard work and dedication of all those involved in delivering the projects.

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