Residents across North East Derbyshire, Chesterfield and Bolsover District who are feeling alone and isolated during the ongoing pandemic are being encouraged to seek support.
‘Feeling Connected’ is a partnership project led by Derbyshire Voluntary Action with the support of Chesterfield Borough Council and North East Derbyshire District Council, which aims to tackle social isolation in the local area.
The project has been commissioned by the Healthy North East Derbyshire and Chesterfield Health and Wellbeing Partnerships which are funded by Derbyshire County Council Public Health.
The ‘Feeling Connected’ project aims to:
- help people better understand the benefits of being socially connected
- raise awareness of existing services which support social connectedness
- identify interventions, initiatives and activities which help people to feel socially connected and which could be further supported and developed in North East Derbyshire and Chesterfield
Jacqui Willis, Chief Executive of Derbyshire Voluntary Action, said: “Most people, young and old, feel lonely from time to time. This is normal, and even healthy. It can be a prompt for action, a reminder to make contact with other people and to create or reaffirm connections.
“Where it can become a problem is if people become isolated through circumstances beyond their control, and if feelings of loneliness become entrenched, or persist for a long time.”
As well as encouraging people who may be socially isolated to seek support, the partnership is also encouraging residents to think about those in their local community who may be alone and consider how they can help them.
Councillor Jill Mannion-Brunt, Chesterfield Borough Council’s cabinet member for health and wellbeing, said: “Tackling social isolation and supporting our residents to overcome the impact of the pandemic is a priority for Chesterfield Borough Council and is at the heart of our Covid-19 community recovery plan.
“Many people have experienced social isolation throughout the pandemic – especially those who have limited access to technology so we’re really pleased to be supporting this project and looking into new initiatives which will help promote social connectedness for our residents.”
Councillor Alan Powell, North East Derbyshire District Council’s cabinet member for Partnership Engagement and Strategy, said: “The pandemic has affected us all, but for some people the feelings of loneliness and isolation have been greatly amplified during this time.
“We are therefore delighted to be supporting this project which will help our residents access the support they need and encourage others to think about those who are alone.”
In the spirit of connecting with others, the ‘Feeling Connected’ project has linked up with similar work which is happening in Bolsover District: ‘Connect Bolsover’ led by Bassetlaw CVS.
Bolsover District Council’s Leader, Councillor Steve Fritchley said: “The situation over the past ten months has highlighted the impact of loneliness and the importance of being part of a community. Even though we have new technology, there is no substitute for human contact, having a cuppa, a biscuit and a chat.
“I believe we will see more people suffering from agoraphobia. Organisations like chit chat groups, craft classes and toddler groups play a huge part in a local community and can provide people with the boost they need if they are feeling lonely or isolated. So we are delighted to support this project within Bolsover District and the wider north east Derbyshire area.”