Meet Valerie who is giving her time, skills and knowledge to help address issues faced by older people in her neighbourhood. She lives in Boston, Lincolnshire. Valerie got involved with the Local People Project, which has been running since 2015, after attending local IT sessions.
“I heard that a computer course would be running, and as I had got a new tablet, I wanted to attend to learn more about how to use it.
“Through the lesson, I heard about the Local People project and how it was testing out ideas from local community to tackle loneliness and isolation amongst older people. The small gathering of residents, called a steering group, were working together to use funding available through the project to develop activities and events.
“I wanted to be part of it because I wanted to help people who had an illness, or who were lonely, to get out and about. I’ve been a steering group member for two years now and I help decide and support local activities for older people, such as events, arts projects, community transport and afternoon teas. A singing group has been set up through the project and I attend this regularly – it’s had a very positive impact on me and helps me when I’m down.
“I’ve made new friends that I wouldn’t normally have made contact with. I feel more able to go out on my own now. I’m more confident to speak up and encourage others too. I’ve noticed an increase in confidence in people at the group; I’ve made friends and have seen others do the same. Activities we’ve run have pulled people out of isolation. Our singing group has made a difference to people’s lives and the local community transport scheme, which is supported by the steering group, helps people who would struggle to leave the house without it.
“I’d encourage others to get involved. I would say that it’s definitely worthwhile, not only to the local community but also to you as a person.”
Gemma Moore is the Royal Voluntary Service community engagement worker in Boston. She finds out the most important local issues for older people, their ideas for addressing them and how they’d like to get involved. She supports residents to take their ideas forward and connect with local groups who share similar aims. A key part of Gemma’s role is to ensure that local people have control over how the project is developed and delivered. Bringing people together is a key part of the project.
“Projects like these are very important as you enable and support the local community to not only get involved, but to have a say in what they want to deliver. Giving the local community opportunities to get together, have fun and meet new friends can have a real impact on their health, wellbeing and confidence. Many people experience loneliness and isolation; it’s great to be able to help combat this and have a real impact on people’s lives.”
The Local People project in Boston is funded by the People's Health Trust, an independent charity addressing health inequalities across Great Britain. It makes grants using money raised by 51 society lotteries through The Health Lottery. Since 2015, Royal Voluntary Service has been working on six Local People's Projects, funded through People’s Health Trust’s Local People Programme. These projects take a neighbourhood approach, engaging with local people and enabling them to address wider issues in their communities through collective action.
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Thursday, 31 May 2018.