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We've launched a campaign called 'Looking out for our neighbours' to try and reduce loneliness and isolation across West Yorkshire and Harrogate.
Visit ourneighbours.org.uk to sign up to support the campaign and download your free resource pack.
Thousands of people and hundreds of organisations across West Yorkshire and Harrogate are supporting the #OurNeighbours campaign, including Jox Cox Foundation ambassador Kim Leadbeater.
"I feel passionately about creating well-connected communities where everyone is happy and healthy and has a sense of identity and belonging, and it is heart-warming to see the work that Jo started on this important issue being continued in such a positive way in the county where we grew up. Much of my focus since Jo was killed has been on how we can build compassionate communities and bring people together. The national Great Get Together campaign which we run across the weekend of Jo's birthday in June is the centre piece of this, and it would be wonderful to think that some of the connections which will be made through the 'Looking out for your Neighbours' initiative can be continued and we see lots of Great Get Togethers happening in June as a result! I believe if we all work together to prevent loneliness and its associated health risks, we can reduce the demand on health and care services and have a positive impact on the wellbeing of everyone, which is why I am delighted to support this campaign".
Listen to Kim, along with Our Neighbours from South West Yorkshire Partnership Foundation Trust, Turning Point Talking Therapies, Andy's Man Club and Live Well Wakefield talk about the positive effect of Looking out for Our Neighbours in this special edition of the West Yorkshire and Harrogate Health and Care Partnership podcast.
Partner organisations are showcasing the campaign on their websites, with Looking out for our neighbours branded pages such as this one from NHS Calderdale Clinical Commissioning Group.
We know that not only hospitals and doctors keep people well; a person’s life choices are also important. We need to see a change in people’s behaviours, built on trust and empowerment, where the benefits of self-care, early help and preventing ill health can flourish. The success of this relies on our communities more than any other stakeholder groups.
More neighbourly interactions and education on how to support vulnerable neighbours in a community can also have a positive impact on issues associated with loneliness, reducing the possibility of dementia, heart disease and depression. Lonely people are more likely to suffer from these conditions.
Findings published in Age UK’s new report “All the lonely people: Loneliness amongst Older People” (2018) show that the number of older people who are lonely has remained relatively constant and that the numbers are rising fast. This could be a major public health concern because if loneliness is not addressed it can become chronic, seriously affecting people’s health and well-being.
A Health Foundation report (December 2018) highlighted how living alone can make older people 50% more likely to find themselves in A&E than those living with family. Pensioners living alone are also 25% more likely to develop a mental health condition. Social isolation can raise the risk of having a stroke by a third and is considered as unhealthy as smoking 15 cigarettes a day.
Our Partnership has allocated £1m to support voluntary and community organisations through the WY&H HCP Harnessing the Power of Communities Programme to help tackle loneliness and to further support the role of VCS partners in our local areas. This campaign offers further support for this work.
If we can re-engage communities in looking out for their neighbours by providing local tips for wellbeing at a neighbourhood level, then we have the potential to positively impact on the increasing demand on health and care services – by working together and looking out for each other.
As part of our market research, we carried out some insight /testing with a sample of people in the following areas to ask them about what makes a good neighbour; their perceptions of community spirit and what sort of things they would be willing to do for a neighbour.
Findings suggest that being neighbourly is different to having a community spirit. Residents tended to prefer campaigns that come from within their communities. This makes the role of community champions. organisations and advocates an important part of our campaign. This is why we’re localising our campaign, which was co-created with over 100 people across the region.
We will measure opinions against the baseline insight and we will set out to find the difference (if any) the intervention has made in each area drawing upon case studies and anecdotes from the public. The academic partner and behaviour change expert, Dr Bridgette Bewick (University of Leeds), will analyse the interviews so we can provide a more robust report on the impact of the campaign.This methodology was used for Breathe 2025 (a regional movement).
Our Partnership is in a unique position to work together to make a positive difference together with communities and neighbourhoods.
Visit the official 'Looking out for our neighbours' website at ourneighbours.org.uk for more information about the campaign, which launched on 15 March, and to see what kinds of things you can do to look our for your neighbours in your own community.
Please get behind this important campaign and show the power of working together to benefit us all.