Project members Sarah and Dee preparing the Christmas packages.

Isolation can have strong and dangerous effects on people’s health. During the pandemic the issue of isolation has become even more prevalent, with many worried the mental health effects of isolation will result in a ‘parallel pandemic.’

Good Companions, a charity based in Clifton and their project ‘Clifton Friendship project’ are working hard to address isolation in their local area, particularly over the holiday season. Based on the success of the charity's previous Friendship Groups, two new groups opened on the Clifton Estate to support isolated older and vulnerable people, enabling them to come together for a mixture of conversation and activities and help them to meet their peers from the local community.

The project is designed and led by local people, with increasing involvement of the members in the design and delivery of the project.

Unfortunately, due to the pandemic, the Friendship groups were closed in March at a time when there was even more need to support vulnerable, older, isolated and lonely people. In response to this situation, an ‘Outreach project’ was set up to support 160 of the project’s members, with Good Companions continuing to receive referrals from both professionals and family members.

The project is also still providing regular telephone support, collecting food shopping and medication as required, and delivering a monthly newsletter with treats and activities to occupy their member’s time. There is also a competition to win a hamper of goodies to keep spirits high during the winter months, with many delighted winners already.

Over the holiday season, the project is ready to support their members even further, as more challenges arise with the confusion surrounding the restrictions, people’s worries for their own and their families health, and those without loved ones to celebrate with, feeling further isolated.

In order to keep people connected and keep morale high, the project is organising activities that everyone can participate in within the restrictions imposed. Following the success of afternoon tea during the summer which was delivered to every member and volunteer, the project will be delivering a ‘Christmas party in a bag’ to all members and volunteers in December as they have had to cancel their Christmas Party, although there will still be a Christmas raffle.

Clare Ashton, Chairman of the Good Companions Management Committee said, “Our Outreach Project has been vital in maintaining contact with some of the most vulnerable and the older people in our community. It has helped to reduce their feelings of isolation and loneliness and helped them to feel supported and cared for during this difficult time”.

Good Companions is funded through the Trust’s Active Communities programme with money raised by Health Lottery East Midlands.

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