A new service for people aged 65 and over who would like to connect with people or interests in the community will launch in Barking & Dagenham and Havering in January. Reconnections by Independent Age will be aimed at over-65s who are feeling lonely, providing support and advice on making new local connections.
The locally-run service will be supported by volunteers who will work alongside participants to understand what matters to them, helping them rebuild their confidence to make new friends and rekindle their interests. It’s easy to volunteer and just an hour a week could make a huge difference to a local older person. It’s very flexible and can be planned around other commitments.
It’s not always fun or easy to go it alone so Reconnections will work with local partners to bring together a network of people who want to support each other. From ten-pin bowling to a meal out; forming a new band; sharing a trip to the cinema or a walk with the dog - everyone enjoys something different and the Reconnections team will help match people to what will be fun for them and help them feel better connected. It can be hard to find that motivation or confidence, so the service offers one-to-one support along the way.
Reconnections by Independent Age will build on the success of the original Reconnections service in Worcestershire. As part of Independent Age’s Innovation strategy to invest in promising approaches, Barking & Dagenham and Havering is the first of two areas where the service will be piloted for two years.
Deborah Alsina MBE, Chief Executive of Independent Age, the older people’s charity developing Reconnections, said, “We’re really excited about taking Reconnections forward. It’s been hugely successful in Worcestershire and will enable us to help even more older people who are experiencing loneliness and isolation.
“Social disconnection can happen to anyone at any stage in life and is a growing
problem across Britain. We believe one of the best ways to address this challenge is through meaningful, sustained, local engagement that doesn’t just provide companionship, but builds community too.
“We are pleased to be launching this new service in Barking & Dagenham and Havering. Even though there are a range of activities and services relevant to older people in these communities, many people still need the kind of practical support and confidence-boosting provided by Reconnections to help them find and participate in the activities right for them.”
The service is supported by local partners: Barking & Dagenham London Borough Council; Havering Council; Barking & Dagenham, Havering and Redbridge Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs); and Care City. It will also be working closely with local health and care professionals, charities and community groups.
Ceri Jacob, Managing Director of Barking and Dagenham, Havering and Redbridge CCGs, commented, “I am delighted that we are part of the Reconnections programme. Isolation and loneliness can have a profound effect on a person’s physical and mental health, but it can be difficult for people who are isolated to reconnect for a whole range of reasons.
“This important programme will help us work collectively with our local communities, the voluntary sector and other statutory partners to reduce loneliness. As a local system we are committed to preventing avoidable ill health or intervening early to prevent deterioration in health, and the Reconnections programme will make a valuable contribution to that commitment.”
Independent Age is currently recruiting sociable and creative people to join the local Reconnections team. Find out more and apply by getting in touch with Chrissy Damien, Service Manager, on Chrissy.Damien@ReconnectionsLocal.org.
For more information about Reconnections, or to sign up to participate in the service or become a volunteer, visit www.ReconnectionsLocal.org or call 020 7050 6565.