Royal Voluntary Service is one of the Jo Cox Commission on Loneliness partner organisations and has been involved from the outset. Today we will be launching three new projects in Jo’s former constituency to help reduce loneliness and isolation.

"As Jo Cox said “loneliness doesn’t discriminate” and over the course of the last year we have had our eyes opened to just how many of us are affected. We welcome the Commission’s manifesto and agree that whilst the government has a role to play, tackling loneliness is the responsibility of all of us.

"Today we are proud to be launching three new projects in Jo’s former constituency to help reduce loneliness and isolation, particularly amongst older people in the community. We will be running new services including lunch clubs, activities and workshops from the existing Batley Old People’s Centre as well as a Community Companions scheme which will match up volunteers with lonely people in the area. We will also be offering support to individuals to help them organise community clubs in the local area through a new Community Connections programme."

Catherine Johnstone, chief executive, Royal Voluntary Service
Lolita's story Lolita is 76 and lives in Neath, in Wales. In 2016 she had her third stroke and was left with limited mobility. Discharged from hospital without a care and support package she was unable to get out of the house. Loneliness began to grind her down.

"After a time, I thought ‘I can’t be bothered anymore.’ I didn’t want to have a shower in the morning. I was getting so depressed. I wasn’t eating, I was losing weight. I’ve gone through a lot in my life and always bounced back but this …. every door was closed to me."

At her wits end, Lolita called the Royal Voluntary Service. She was matched up with a volunteer named Eddie who started visiting once a week to take her out. Eddie’s visits helped Lolita feel hopeful again.

"One day we were sat in a café and Eddie started telling me a story from his days in the Merchant Navy. I could hear this laughter. I looked around, and it was me! And I thought, ‘Well, there is hope.’ It’s raised my spirits and made such a difference."

Eddie’s visits have given Lolita the confidence to do battle with her housing provider to sort out the lifts in her building, so she can get out independently, and she has made plans to join the University of the Third Age. She’s clear that Eddie’s friendship has made the difference.

"Every aspect of my life has just changed. All I wanted was the contact with somebody else – and actually it helped that it was someone new. Eddie reminded me that I’m actually pretty good at talking to people – you lose a bit of that confidence when you’re in a wheelchair – people talk to you like you’re deaf or a bit screwy."

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