Vision for new £6m strategy to tackle loneliness goes before council bosses
A vision for how £6m of lottery cash will help older people in Leeds escape the grip of loneliness will go before council chiefs in Leeds this week.
Members of the council’s executive board will hear more details about the Out of the Shadows: Time to Shine project at a meeting on Wednesday.
The ground-breaking new strategy has been put together by the council and Leeds Older People’s Forum (LOPF), who prepared a successful bid to receive £1m each year over the next six years from the Big Lottery Fund.
A report to the executive board sets out the five key areas that the strategy will work on.
They include a series of Loneliness Training awareness sessions for those who have contact with older people along with a new Street Links project, which will see community based ‘connectors’ helping local older people find information, opportunities to socialise and vital support.
Community and volunteer groups will also be encouraged to grow, helping more weekend and evening activities to be established in parts of Leeds.
They could include a new Dinner Dates scheme, where a volunteer will accompany an older person to a meal, pub, café or simply a night in at home.
Work will also take place that will focus on socially isolated people from black and minority ethnic communities, lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender communities and on older people with learning difficulties.
And crucially, older people will be involved in designing, managing and evaluating all of the strategy’s activities.
At this week's meeting, members of the executive board will be asked to offer congratulations to the LOPF and also endorse the aims of the project.
A project plan will then be drawn up by the end of December, with the project scheduled to begin next July.
Councillor Adam Ogilvie, Leeds City Council’s executive member for adult social care, said:
“Leeds has been presented with a unique and exciting opportunity to establish and grow a whole new network of projects and activities which can strike a crucial blow in the fight against the blight of loneliness and social isolation.
“With this funding, along with the support of the incredibly dedicated organisations and volunteers who already work so hard in Leeds, we can make sure ours is a city where older people have the opportunity to enjoy active and fulfilling social lives and where their enthusiasm, knowledge and experience really are given the proper chance to shine.”
Leeds currently has 246,000 older residents, with 14,500 of them aged over 85. An estimated 37,000 of those older people can be described as lonely or socially isolated.
Out of the Shadows: Time to Shine forms part of Leeds’s efforts to be an age-friendly city.
Council chiefs recently signed up to an ambitious pledge to make Leeds the best place in the country for older people to live, work and visit, with Leeds officially included in the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) Global Network of Age-friendly Cities and Communities.
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