A recent study from the Office National Statistics showed that 59% of those aged 85 and over and 38% of those aged 75 to 84 live alone. According to AGE UK the number of over 50’s experiencing loneliness is set to reach two million by 2025/26, which is a 49% increase in 10 years and half a million older people go at least five or six days a week without seeing or speaking to anyone at all.
In July 2020, Blackpool FC Community Trust joined 31 EFL clubs as part of a major new programme to tackle loneliness among older people, working in partnership with the EFL Trust and Department for Culture, Media, and Sport. Following this, the Trust engaged with 895 individuals through phone calls, garden gate visits to those who were most at risk, postal packs, and online sessions.
One of the participants, Alan Cleveland, spoke about the benefit by stating: “The programme was a god send. I was frightened that I would be isolated and would slip back into a dark hole. Thanks to Nathan and his co-workers I felt included and really appreciated the face to face and phone contact. I felt someone cared and there was always someone I could ring and speak to in time of need.”
To further tackle social isolation and loneliness, the Community Trust have received further support from the Postcode Neighbourhood Trust and People’s Postcode Lottery to deliver their new referral-based programme ‘Pool Together’. This has enabled the Trust to further support the community to reduce loneliness and isolation by providing them with access to enriching activities, opportunities to build new friendships and enjoy a sense of belonging, all of which will improve their wellbeing.
“The pandemic has shone a light on a sizeable proportion of the community who have always been there, but for whom we were not engaging. The Tackling Loneliness Project identified many new people who needed some extra support, which has been of great benefit to us and has shaped our understanding and delivery. We are delighted therefore to receive this support and to be able to continue and build upon the great work we have done these last few months,” said Jason White, Head of Community Programmes at Blackpool FC Community Trust.
Nathan Davies, Health Officer at Blackpool FC Community Trust commented, “some amazing relationships have been made between the staff and participants where in some instances they have had regular contact on a weekly basis. It has been extremely humbling to be a part of a project that has had such a positive impact on so many lives.”