South London Cares tell us about their Winter Wellbeing project
Winter is well and truly on it’s way.
And to be honest, it doesn’t make me happy. The thought of short days, going to and from work in the dark, the bitter cold and wrapping up in layer upon layer fills me with dread. And I don’t think I’m alone in feeling this way. Many of us go into hibernation during these months.
But imagine how some of our older neighbours must feel – people in their 70s, 80s and 90s – at the prospect of facing these harsh and isolating months. Older neighbours who often live alone, who may already struggle to get out and about and for whom interaction will soon be even harder to come by. Older neighbours who struggle to keep warm because of the rising price of energy bills. Indeed, last winter, there were 44,000 excess – and preventable – deaths in England and Wales.
It’s going to be tough – but together, through community, we can make a difference.
South London Cares’ Winter Wellbeing programme is a huge, community-led outreach effort across our patch in Southwark and Lambeth. Between December and February, our core team and network of young professional volunteers will speak to as many older people as possible to help them feel warm, active, healthy and connected during the winter months.
Volunteers will attend tenants’ meetings to see if neighbours like Margaret need a blanket to keep warm. We’ll hold stalls in pharmacies, food banks, post offices, GPs, pubs, bookies, newsagents – places that encounter isolation every day – to talk neighbours like Tony about our social clubs; groups activities at which older and younger neighbours share time, laughter and new experiences togethter. We’ll head to the estates where so many older neighbours live, knock on doors and strike up conversations with the older neighbours behind them to see if a fuel grant could help them heat their homes.
We pitched for funding for our Winter Wellbeing programme at The Multiplier; a crowdfunding event co-hosted by City Funding Network and BeyondMe. And because of their support and generosity, we’ll be supporting at least 2,000 older neighbours across our boroughs this winter. The Winter Wellbeing project provides reassurance for isolated older neighbours, strengthens the idea of community and embeds a preventative approach whereby practical, social and emotional issues are identified before they become emergencies.
If you live or work in Southwark and Lambeth, do come and hang out with your older neighbours, or help us out with the Winter Wellbeing project. It’s easy to get involved; just sign up as a volunteer. You can also follow us on twitter for daily doses of joy from your older neighbours.
Emily Clarke, Head of Development, South London Cares