In June 2012, Community Network received funding from the The House of Industry in Bedford, to run peer support telephone groups for older residents, to reduce social isolation and improve mental health and well-being.
The Telephone Communities set up in Bedford worked with a variety of different people. One group was set up to provide peer support to carers over the telephone. They benefitted from this form of support as they could take the calls from the comfort of their own home and connect with people who were in a similar situation. One carer said:
“The group was helpful because I knew on a Tuesday I could say: ‘This is how I’m feeling’ – and they would understand. If you got upset, it was OK.”
The service in Bedford also set up groups through St Peter’s Church and Bedford’s Library service. One of Community Network’s oldest beneficiaries of 99 years came from the church group, and despite claiming that she does not go far from home now, Gwen relished the opportunity to share her many memories of the past.
“I have lots of happy memories… If you like to talk, a group like this is very good, and when you’re a teacher, you certainly know how to talk!”
The service has now finished in Bedford, but Community Network is hoping to build on the many positive relationships they have established with various organisations and individuals in Bedford. If you would like more information on the work Community Network about the project, please contact the office on 020 7923 5250 or email email@example.com.
Fit as a Fiddle
From February 2011 to December 2012, Community Network worked in partnership with Age UK to deliver part of the ‘isolated at home’ strand of Age UK’s national fit as a fiddle programme.
Ours was one of five national cascade projects set up to cover each region of England.
The project’s overall aim was to train volunteers to support isolated older people over the age of 65 to improve their health and well-being. Age UK wanted to see real lifestyle improvements, encourage people to make better use of local resources and encourage a greater number of older volunteers to get involved.
Our innovative use of teleconferencing technology meant that we could use peer-support telephone groups, facilitated by volunteers, to meet the desired outcomes for Age UK. The groups were proven to get isolated older adults eating more healthily, taking part in greater amounts of physical activity and feeling more confident and satisfied in their lives. Click here to read some of the project feedback.
The project also ran a series of roadshows to promote the fit as a fiddle programme to older people and the agencies that work with them.
Community Network and Age UK have now developed training packs, entitled Talking Tonics, so that other organisations and volunteers can run their own similar projects. The packs are now available from Community Network and Age UK.
If you are interested please email firstname.lastname@example.org. Each Talking Tonics pack, comes with two days consultancy from Community Network.