Giving something back - Local People in Biddulph

04 August 2016

Local people in Staffordshire are coming together to strengthen their community and address issues around social isolation.

In this piece, Dave Rogers, a volunteer with the Local People project in Biddulph, discusses how he and his wife got involved with the project.

“It began with a chance meeting on a cold and cloudy English morning. My wife and I were in the local library, taking our time looking over the wide selection of books.

“There was another man sat over from us, leafing through a pile of papers and studying a local map. He greeted us warmly, asking if we had a few minutes to spare for a quick chat.

“He said his name was Ross and explained that he was a Community Engagement Worker from Royal Voluntary Service. He asked if we minded pointing out whereabouts we lived on his map and he was delighted when it turned out our bungalow was right in the middle of the area People’s Health Trust have invested funding.

“Ross explained how important it was to engage with local people and to empower them to address the issues that affect them and the whole community together.”

One of the aims of the Local People project in Biddulph is to help combat social isolation, which is a particularly prominent issue for elderly people.

Royal Voluntary Service are one of the founding partners of The Campaign to End Loneliness whose research estimates that about one in ten people over the age of 65 feel chronically lonely all or most of the time[1].One recent study concludes that lonely people have a 64% higher chance of developing clinical dementia[2]. Loneliness has also been linked to an increased susceptibility to a range of health issues, from high blood pressure[3] and heart disease[4] to depression[5] and suicide[6]. Encouragingly, many positive steps are being taken in local communities like Biddulph to overcome it.

Ross suggested that Mr and Mrs Rogers consider volunteering for just a couple of hours a week to spend some time with older people working on the Biddulph Local People project.

“We didn’t need persuading. We signed up on the spot.

“The thought of giving something back to the community that has treated my wife and I so well was a very attractive one”, Dave added.

Because the programme relies on the wisdom, experience and skills of local people, and because project leaders engage with the community and respond to the issues local residents identify as priorities, they can bring about real, lasting change in their neighbourhood.

So far, the project has established a steering group of local people and has reached out to a nearby care home to ensure older people’s views are represented. They have developed social evenings, befriending projects and buddy schemes. The project has also revitalised a film club and regular bingo nights, both of which are proving very popular.

People’s Health Trust has invested £213,022 in Biddulph, using money raised by HealthFair through The Health Lottery.

There are a number of Local People projects in place across England, Scotland and Wales. Local People is a People’s Health Trust funding programme which encourages communities to come together and take the lead in the design and delivery of home-grown ideas. It relies on the wisdom, experiences and skills of local people and supports them to make the changes they want for their community.

To read more about other local projects we support, click here.



[1] ‘Loneliness in old age: the UK perspective’, Victor, C., 2011. Safeguarding the Convoy: a call to action from the Campaign to End Loneliness. Age UK Oxfordshire.

[2] ‘Feelings of loneliness, but not social isolation, predict dementia onset: results from the Amsterdam Study of the Elderly (AMSTEL)’, Holwerda et al, 2012, http://jnnp.bmj.com/content/early/2012/11/06/jnnp-2012-302755.

[3] ‘Loneliness predicts increased blood pressure: 5-year cross-lagged analyses in middle-aged and older adults’, Hawkley et al, 2010, http://ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20230134.

[4] ‘Loneliness accentuates age differences in cardiovascular responses to social evaluative threat’, Ong et al, 2011, http://ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22004517.

[5] ‘Loneliness as a specific risk factor for depressive symptoms: cross-sectional and longitudinal analyses’, Cacioppo et al, 2006, http://ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16594799.

[6] ‘Recent developments: Suicide in older people’, O’Connell et al, 2004, http://ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC523116/.

 

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