Workshops aims to build connections to help tackle loneliness

CHARITIES and community groups are being invited to events that aim to increase awareness and explore what will help reduce and prevent loneliness in Wiltshire.

The Wiltshire Community Foundation has organised workshops in Salisbury and Devizes, for groups whose work involves connecting people and addressing loneliness. The workshops form part of the Foundation’s Loneliness Uncovered project, which is supported by the National Lottery Community Fund and the Department of Digital, Culture, Media and Sport.  

Organiser Margaret Firth said the aim is  to bring organisations together to identify what work is going on and collectively consider what more can be done.

“We want to find out more about who is doing what, whether its is voluntary sector,  community groups, local councils and/or other  providers” she said.

“We hosted a similar workshop in Swindon in March and it was tremendously helpful to the 60 or so groups who came along, we had lively debate and people shared experiences and ideas, whilst making useful connections”

“We had really good feedback  and everyone said they found the workshop useful”

Mrs Firth said loneliness can affect everyone, it doesn’t discriminate.  She said: “Loneliness is not new, but research is increasing showing how it can affect people’s health  –  loneliness is as damaging to our physical health as smoking and has also been linked to increased risk of other health conditions including heart disease and depression. It’s estimated that between 5 per cent and 18 per cent of UK adults feel lonely often or always.”

She added: “We know the groups we support already do huge amounts to address loneliness, working in their communities to connect people. By bringing people together – social groups for older people, activities for those with disabilities, families, young people or youth clubs – they  all make an impact in helping to reduce isolation.”

The workshop will comprise a short introduction and discussion sessions which will look at the issues surrounding loneliness in Wiltshire, what is currently being done to address these issues and what more could be done to connect people. The results will feed into an in-depth report being compiled by the Community Foundation,  which will be published later in the year.

The first workshop is at the at the Friary Community Centre in Salisbury on Tuesday June 11 from 2pm to 4.30pm and the second is at Devizes Town Hall on Thursday, June 20 from 9.30am to noon.  Refreshments will be provided at both. Places are limited and are available for people from charities or community groups in Wiltshire, one attendee per organisation can register by emailing: maggie.watson@wiltshirecf.org.uk.

Pictured: Delegates at the successful building connections workshop organised by the Wiltshire Community Foundation in Swindon