This past week has been National Loneliness Awareness week, so I thought I would explain some of the work we have done to help those in need in Blackpool over the past few months.
I’ve spoken a lot about how we have changed our delivery to suit the circumstances and this has been the case for our Extra Time, Sporting Memories, Get Set to Go, Veterans Coffee Mornings programmes and many more too.
These programmes normally focus on the isolated people in our community, more than 9 million people in our country are either always or often lonely. We’ve found that more than 17% of older people go for two weeks without speaking to someone, 11% more than a month!
These statistics cause great concern for us and in an area like Blackpool, we have a large number of people who fall into this category.
We know that being in this category also brings significant risk of other health issues, including heart disease, stroke, falls, depression, Alzheimer’s and sleep problems, which all can result in earlier deaths.
With this in mind, these people have become a priority and we have delivered a host of provision throughout the past three months including; online Quiz’s every Friday evening on Facebook live, our team have developed activity packs for people at home to complete, including Sporting Memories resources, spot the ball activities and many more football related games.
We have developed a GetSet2Talk programme, bringing participants together digitally, who would normally come together to play football to improve their mental health. This past week, our group came together for a fancy dress meeting on Zoom, which from our picture shows some very interesting costumes.
We have delivered Health visits, to residents door steps to break up their day and show a friendly face. Our football club directors and first team players have called many of our fans and season ticket holders to have a chat, and our Community Engagement Officer Dave Marsland has called more than sixty people every week, to check on them and have a chat too.
These are all examples of how we have tried to reduce isolation in the period and we plan to enhance this in the short and long term future. We hope to announce a new programme very soon, that will incorporate an extension of calling people, writing to local residents, visiting door steps, developing more virtual social groups and also finding ways to develop intergenerational meetings to get our young people to support our older generation through social action.
We have a strong vision for developing new social prescribing techniques, to get the community to improve their own mental and physical health, and this is an example of being able to utilise the power of the Football Club brand and brings an attention no one else can bring.
We also hope as restrictions continue to be relaxed, that we can start to phase back some of our community groups and start to bring people back together, safely.
The pandemic has brought significant issues and stress to the organisation, but it has also allowed us time to review and learn new ways to engage our community and we hope to implement new plans and strategies in the coming months.
I’d like to close this week with adding, that if you ever feel lonely or know somebody that does, please pass on our helpline numbers. There is always somebody available to help and we may also be able to link you to services that can help even further.
Call anytime during the week between 8:30am and 5:30pm on 07939446367 or 07939156297. We’re here to chat!