Social Connections

14 February 2020

The Royal Voluntary Service support six Local People projects across England and Scotland funded by People’s Health Trust as part of our Local People programme.

Having social connections is an important factor that shapes our opportunities to be healthy and live longer lives. Social connections can reduce isolation, combat loneliness and reduce stress, as well as contributing to a sense of meaning and purpose in life. At the Trust, our funding programmes place a strong emphasis on building social connections as the foundation for increased confidence, skills, voice and aspiration.

The Local People project in Thetford has identified reducing social isolation as one of its priorities. In this case study, we hear from member and volunteer, Eileen Roberts about her involvement and the successes of the project.

“I was introduced to the Thetford Local People project by my good friend who was already on the Steering Group. I have always been involved in community stuff, and I wanted to do something in the community so volunteering with this project helps me give back.

I have been a volunteer on the Steering Group now since the beginning of 2016 and as part of that role I attend monthly meetings as well as any extra ones we decide to have if needed. I put forward suggestions and ideas and attend our funded groups when I can and sometimes take the minutes. My husband was very ill last year so I had to take a back seat for a while. I am a keen photographer so often take photos for our team so that we can show others what we do and advertise all our work.

Generally I help with getting things off the ground. I like to see the final results of the projects we do and the best bit is knowing that we have helped somebody. I talk a lot to residents on my estate so feel I have a real ear to the ground which is great to feed back to the rest of the team. It also gives me the chance to tell people what we are up to in the community, and how they can get involved. I tend to stand back and listen a lot and then put forward my opinions and what I have heard from others.  One of the other members has said that I am the voice of calm and reason!

One of the best things about being part of this project is seeing some of the groups and ideas we helped set up progress on their own without our help. Seeing the groups get more independent is so fulfilling.

I feel that I have really helped things head towards a better community by being a part of the Steering Group. I really feel that we are starting to have more of an impact and involvement in our community, certainly there are more things to do for older people now and one of our recent projects, the taxi voucher scheme, has really helped people get out more.

I think that’s one of the things I feel best about, seeing people getting out and about and enjoying themselves, meeting new friends. I do think a lot of that is because of the taxi vouchers and I really look forward to helping the older people in the town to develop usable community transport scheme. Basically, the more there is for older people to do in this town the better and I will encourage anyone to help out or join in.”

The Local People project in Thetford is supported by The Royal Voluntary Service and funded by the Trust using money raised by Health Lottery East.  The Local People programme is a People’s Health Trust initiative which involves supporting residents to develop a shared vision for their community and take action on the issues that matter most to local people. 

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