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18 November 2013

Project commissioned to tackle loneliness & social isolation among older people in remote rural areas of the Harrogate area
Tackling loneliness and social isolation among older people in some of the most remote parts of the Harrogate district is the focus of a new project.
NHS Harrogate and Rural District CCG (HaRD CCG), Harrogate Borough Council and North Yorkshire County Council’s Public Health department is investing £40,000 into a new initiative to bring older people together in the areas of Pateley Bridge, Masham and Boroughbridge.
In September, voluntary organisations, charities and community groups were invited to bid for one-off funding to deliver a new project to address this issue.
There were a number of high quality applications, with the funding being awarded to the British Red Cross for its Community Connect project, which begins on 18 November and runs for 12 months.
The project will provide a range of support for 200 individuals aged over 65 identified as having a range of additional support needs.
The project will work to:
• improve self-esteem and confidence by encouraging individuals to develop personal plans, and provide support to work towards achievable goals.

• increase social connections by supporting service users to take advantage of local services and activities.

improve wellbeing, independence and quality of life by providing a single point of access to services such as benefit checks, medication checks with pharmacies, and transport support.

• provide companionship and emotional support through local volunteers.

• provide access to British Red Cross community based support such as every day first aid, mobility aids, transport support and wellbeing massage.
Amanda Bloor, Chief Officer at HaRD CCG, said: “Tackling social isolation is one of our priorities – as a district we have a higher than average proportion of older people and some very rural areas and we want to do everything we can to reduce feelings of social isolation and loneliness. We know that social isolation plays a major factor in both physical and mental wellbeing, and we are committed to improving outcomes for local people.
“The panel had a difficult decision to make from an excellent range of initiatives, but we are confident that the Community Connect project will help us improve the health and wellbeing of older people in our region.”
Contributing factors that relate to experiences of loneliness and social isolation include significant life events such as bereavement, or relocation into residential care as well as the longer term impact of mental health and poor physical health.

Location also plays a part. In rural areas, loneliness and social isolation tend to be more acute, as friends, family and service providers are often more distant. Research suggests that individuals (particularly older people) without access to their own transport also have greater chances of experiencing social isolation in rural areas than urban areas.

April Baskind, Area Business Development Manager for the British Red Cross, said: “We know that older people are particularly vulnerable to social isolation owing to a loss of friends and family, mobility or income and that social isolation impacts upon quality of life, and health and wellbeing.
“We are delighted that our bid has been successful. Our project will encourage and support individuals to make connections in their community to improve their quality of life, health and wellbeing.”


For further information contact the NHS North Yorkshire and Humber Communications Team on 0300 303 8394.

Notes to editors:

  • The terms ‘loneliness’ and ‘isolation’ are sometimes used as if they mean the same thing, but they are two different concepts. Isolation is about separation from social or familial contact, community involvement, or access to services. Loneliness, by contrast, refers to an individual’s personal, subjective sense of lacking these things to the extent that they are wanted or needed. It is therefore possible to be isolated without being lonely, and to be lonely without being isolated.

  • The proportion of older people in North Yorkshire is considerably higher than the national average. In 2010 an estimated 20.3% of the population of North Yorkshire were aged 65 and over, compared to the national average of 16.5%. The population of older people is expected to increase from 20.3% in 2010 to 31.5% by 2035 while the population aged 0-19 years is expected to fall from 22.6% to 20.1% over the same period.

In the HaRD CCG area, 27% of the population is aged 60 and over compared to the national average of 22.4%. Specifically, within the HaRD CCG area, the number of people aged 65 and over is set to increase from 31,500 to around 40,200 by 2021, a rise of 19% from current levels.

  • The Joint Health and Wellbeing Strategy for North Yorkshire has identified rurality and an ageing population as key challenges to work on throughout 2013-2018. The Strategy identifies that in order to respond to such challenges, it will be necessary to:

    • tackle the wider determinants of health – to improve health and wellbeing including emotional and mental wellbeing.

    • improve partnership working – all partners should work together to develop integrated solutions.

    • make better use of community assets – create opportunities to support, expand and grow the contribution local people can make in developing safer, sustainable, supportive, cohesive and more connected communities.

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