Council signposts ways to limit ‘Lockdown loneliness’
As part of National Loneliness Awareness Week (15 - 21 June), Southampton City Council is highlighting how it is supporting residents experiencing ‘lockdown loneliness’ and supports Marmalade Trusts’ campaign, to take the ‘one’ out of loneliness.
The week aims to encourage people to speak openly about feeling lonely and signpost them to support. Findings from a survey by The Office of National Statistics (ONS)*, carried out between 3 April and 3 May 2020, found that the equivalent of 7.4 million people across Great Britain said that their wellbeing has been affected by feeling lonely in the previous seven days.
The Covid-19 pandemic will no doubt have played a part in the number of people feeling lonely, as millions of people across the country have been isolated from their family and friends.
Southampton City Council has been checking in on its vulnerable residents and those in receipt of adult social care during these unprecedented times, to help relieve the possible feelings of loneliness, anxiety and uncertainty and finding alternative ways to help them.
With home visits reduced to protect staff and residents, the Housing Support Team have made contact with all residents. Weekly and daily welfare calls are made to those feeling particularly lonely or isolated to see if they need any extra help or advice and to make sure they are physically and mentally okay.
Evelyn Sheath from Maybush, is one tenant who is having regular phone call chats.
Anna Meacher, Housing Support Worker at Southampton City Council, said: “Evelyn said she was feeling lonely, is on the shielding list and also waiting for an operation, and she had been getting a lot of painful symptoms. When I first spoke to her she was very low and upset. I just listened to her worries and gave her advice to contact her GP about how she was feeling. I have kept in regular contact with her and she appreciates the chats.”
Evelyn said, “I’m so grateful of the support the team has been giving me. I try to keep myself busy at home as I have not been out for months or been able to see my family, so it has been lovely to just have a chat and it lifts me up. I have really appreciated it.”
As well as completing these extra phone calls, the team have continued to make visits to those that are unable to make contact with them over the phone and for essential reasons such as shopping, collecting prescriptions, arranging and collecting food parcels, as well as attending any emergency calls generated from the alarm system during the day.
Southampton City Council has also been supporting residents in the following ways:
Holcroft House, the Council run care home which is registered to support residents with a diagnosis of dementia, purchased four new tablets and have been helping residents to use Skype and WhatsApp to keep in touch with their families via video call.
Southampton Libraries have called over 1,500 library users aged over 70, for a friendly chat and to reassure them about their library services.
Online classes have been set up for Adult Learning, as well as employment courses and free virtual social groups for parents, families and people expecting a child, to connect people and take a break from the stresses of lockdown.
The Southampton Community Support Hub have contacted 2,500 vulnerable people who have been shielded to ensure they are aware of the support that is available to them if required.
Councillor Lorna Fielker, Cabinet Member for Health and Adult Care at Southampton City Council comments: “Even though restrictions have eased slightly, many people are still needing to shield or self-isolate at home and may be feeling cut off from their social circles by not being able to socialise in the way that they’re used to. We want to empower everyone to understand loneliness one conversation at a time, but to do that, we need to be open and talk about it. Through our efforts with the NHS Southampton City Clinical Commissioning Group and our community partners, we'd like our residents to know that they’re not alone, and there’s many resources out there such as telephone befriending and online sessions that can help.”
If you or someone you know is experiencing loneliness, the council, its commissioned services and community partners can provide the following support:
So:Linked- the online database of community links is regularly updated for people to search for help, guidance and services on a variety of topics by postcode. There’s also a list of ‘things to do’ to help ease boredom at home, and build connections
Communicare – the good neighbours befriending scheme supports those who are lonely or housebound in their own homes by telephone or post. It has over 150 telephone partnerships, with calls typically,taking place once a week
Southampton Living Well– offers daytime activities and a place to go to for older people living in Southampton. Despite the hubs having to close because of Covid-19, they have supported many of the customers from the hubs in a variety of ways from phone calls to physically checking in on people at home (from a safe distance). Its also launched a project where local children from the community and pupils from schools have been sending in letters, drawings and messages of support to the day centre customers to help to brighten someone’s day at this difficult time.
Southampton Timebank - offers reciprocal support and social activities. Since lockdown began, 40 of Southampton City Council’s Timebank volunteers have helped over 350 people in need in their communities. They’ve offered their time with shopping, helping to get medications and by being phone buddies for people unable to leave their homes or who are feeling isolated.
Love Southampton- an initiative of a broad range of churches in Southampton, have created invaluable social support including vital befriending and practical support that can be accessed online. It’s also working with students from University of Southampton on an initiative to befriend fellow students