Support Service Tackles Loneliness and Isolation
Loneliness is a feeling, that effects everyone at times – it is a natural human emotion. It is estimated that 3.7 million adults in the UK struggle with loneliness, with a recent survey showing that one in four adults admitted to feeling lonely either some or all of the time.
When it negatively impacts upon our mental health and wellbeing, it is important to remember that there is help out there.
For Karen, mother to four grown up children, a catalogue of changes resulted in a re-location to a new area, away from family and friends, which meant she suffered from loneliness and social isolation.
Better Together is a bespoke partnership of voluntary groups, charities and social enterprises led by Voluntary Norfolk. The service’s life connectors offer 1-to-1 support to adults (18+) whose loneliness is the primary issue affecting their health & wellbeing in Norwich, Great Yarmouth, Broadland and South Norfolk.
Karen was referred by another support agency to Better Together Norfolk in March.
She said: “My life connector has been absolutely amazing, there’s no other word for her. I was isolated, had nowhere to go, I felt stuck. When I tried to go out I became lost and had to call my son for help. She’s got me out and about to different groups, meeting new people. I’ve had 2 breakdowns since I moved here and she’s someone I can talk to if I’m feeling upset.”
Life Connectors work with clients to identify barriers that can lead to social isolation and loneliness, such as finances, transport, mobility, and mental health.
Katie, a Life Connector covering the Broadland District area, began working for Better Together just before the pandemic.
She said: “When we work with a new client we try to find out what motivates them, what interests or hobbies they may have. It’s important people feel in the right space to move forward. Every day is different – I spend time researching what’s on in the local area to find appropriate groups as well as supporting people with attending groups, calling clients, making referrals to other agencies, supporting applications for funds, looking into transport links or anything else that may come up.
“Sometimes planning goes out the window! I love being creative with solutions and listening to what works for our clients. It’s really satisfying ‘opening doors’ and we really do have the potential to make a difference.”
In 2021-2022, Better Together Norfolk accepted 488 new referrals and conducted 3,423 hours of peer support for individuals suffering from social isolation or loneliness. Typically, the Better Together life connectors engaged with clients for about 6-12 months. 84.6% of the service’s clients felt less “isolated” and 91.6% felt less “lonely” following support they received.
You can access this free service, by calling the helpline 0300 303 3920 or making a referral via the website: https://www.bettertogethernorfolk.org.uk/
Norfolk County Council has commissioned services across the County to help tackle loneliness and isolation. In South Norfolk, Broadland, Norwich and Great Yarmouth, the services are delivered by Better Together, led by Voluntary Norfolk. Elsewhere in the County, similar services are delivered by CAN Connect (North Norfolk and Breckland) and LILY (Kings Lynn and West Norfolk).