Connecting people, changing lives

By Donna Yay (on maternity leave)

Loneliness has become popular subject in the media and thanks to numerous studies we now recognise the damage that feeling alone and disconnected can cause, not only to a person’s wellbeing but also their life expectancy. High profile, national initiatives such as the Campaign to End Loneliness and the Jo Cox Commission on Loneliness have done a lot to encourage us all to do our bit to look out for elderly neighbours or introduce ourselves to the new family on the street. Yet we all wish we could do more.

In London and, likewise, across the UK, we are fortunate to have locally-rooted organisations which create connections between people living in the same area. There is an incredible range of community groups working to reduce social isolation and tackle the barriers that prevent people from feeling that they belong; barriers such as disability, language, homelessness, mental illness, or being new to an area or to the country, to name but a few. It may be that you simply can’t get out as much as you used to and your family live far away. Gradually, visitors have become few and far between and your main source of company is your TV. It may sound like I’m being dramatic but this is a reality for far too many people.

The organisations we support see a need to reach out to individuals who might be at risk of becoming isolated and have created innovative solutions to tackling this problem. Take North London Cares for example. They bring together older people with young professionals at their social clubs. Unlike traditional befriending schemes, their model recognises that young people can be just as in need of friendship as older people. There is no sense of someone being the giver of help and someone else the recipient; both parties are equal and have as much to learn from the other. We’ve supported North London Cares since their very first year have seen them grow. We can even take partial credit for inspiring them to set up sister charity, South London Cares. Sadly, Manchester Cares was all their idea so no credit taken there!

Hear from North London Cares’ participants themselves about how the organisation has changed their lives.

Connect London

We’re looking for more organisations like North & South London Cares which have an innovative model and seek to reduce social isolation in the capital. Our exciting new initiative, Connect London, will identify groups that show potential to grow, and support them to build and implement their plans to expand into new areas or boroughs. 

The initiative will focus on nine priority boroughs: Barking & Dagenham, Haringey, Havering, Lambeth, Lewisham, Merton, Redbridge, Sutton and Waltham Forest. We are asking for expressions of interest from organisations with a successful model and ambitions to expand into these boroughs.

You don't need to be based within one of the nine boroughs, however you might already be working there but want to expand into a new area within that borough. At this stage we just want to hear about your organisation and what you do. We don’t expect you to have everything in place, we will help you to develop that. Those that are selected will have the opportunity to apply for grants of around £20,000 to £40,000 to trial their plans.

If you are interested in finding out more, please click on the link below or feel free to contact me on donna.yay@londoncf.org.uk. Complete this short expression of interest form to register your details by Friday 16th March at 5pm.