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‘Looking out for our neighbours’ targets social isolation in Bradford District

A new campaign that aims to help prevent loneliness and social isolation in local communities is being launched across Bradford District today (15 March).

The ‘Looking out for our neighbours’ campaign, created by the West Yorkshire and Harrogate Health and Care Partnership, encourages local people to do simple things to look out for one another to help improve the wellbeing of other residents in the area.

According to research from The Health Foundation (December 2018), social isolation can increase the risk of having a stroke by a third, and older people who live alone are 50% more likely to visit A&E than those who live with others.

Findings published in Age UK’s new report ‘All the lonely people: Loneliness amongst older people’ (2018) show that the number of older people who are lonely is rising quickly. This could be a major public health concern because if loneliness is not addressed it can seriously affect people’s health and well-being.

3 CCGs governing body supporting 'Looking out for #OurNeighbours' campaign

Helen Hirst, Chief Officer, NHS Bradford district and Craven clinical commissioning groups (CCGs), said: “We often think of loneliness as something that affects older people, sadly it can affect anyone at any time in their life. So trying to prevent loneliness and the effect on children and young people’s health is important too. That’s why the Partnership has come together to support this important campaign so we can try and make a bigger difference together. On a personal level, we can all do something to help; the smallest gestures can make a huge difference to someone who is feeling alone, even just saying ‘hello’.”

The ‘Looking out for our neighbours’ campaign hopes to inspire people to reach out to those who live alone or might need help, and encourage them to do simple things for them that will make a real difference to their wellbeing. This could be anything from picking up some shopping, to saying a simple ‘hello’ next time they see their neighbours.

James Drury, Programme Director, Bradford Integrated Health Board, said: “In Bradford District our vision is for people to be Happy, Healthy, at Home. We believe people are amazing and we value the difference they make for each other through everyday acts of kindness. That’s why we are supporting the ‘Looking out for our neighbours’ campaign.”

The campaign starts on Friday 15 March and will run across West Yorkshire and Harrogate. It’s been created with the help of over 100 residents across the region. 30,000 households across West Yorkshire and Harrogate will receive a hand-delivered ‘neighbour pack’ that will include a range of different resources to inspire and encourage residents to champion togetherness in their area and look out for those in need.

Kim Shutler-Jones, Chief Executive, The Cellar Trust and Chair of the Bradford Voluntary and Community Sector (VCS) Assembly, said: “People can feel lonely or isolated for so many reasons, and of course, the links between this and our mental and physical health are clear. In the voluntary and community sector, we work across communities trying to tackle some of these issues – but actually – if we all work together, we can make an even bigger difference. People should never underestimate the fact that small acts of kindness can change lives. In our busy lives, these things can be forgotten but if we all pause and take time for these moments of compassion the world would be a better place.”

For those who don’t receive a hand-delivered pack, all resources are available to download from the Our Neighbours campaign website.

Key to the success of the campaign will be local community organisations and groups working with and in their neighbourhoods.

More than 200 organisations have pledged their support to take part in the campaign from local community groups to sports clubs (including The Cellar Trust, Healthwatch Bradford and District, Incommunities, Keighley Big Local, Volunteering Bradford, Bradford Trident, Community Action Bradford and District, CNet Bradford and District and Bradford Women’s Health Network) to hospitals, councils, the police and fire service.

Jo Cox’s sister, Kim Leadbeater, Ambassador for The Jo Cox Foundation, said: "I feel passionately about creating well-connected communities where everyone is happy and healthy and has a sense of identity and belonging, and it is heart-warming to see the work that Jo started on this important issue being continued in such a positive way in the county where we grew up. Much of my focus since Jo was killed has been on how we can build compassionate communities and bring people together. I believe if we all work together to prevent loneliness and its associated health risks, we can reduce the demand on health and care services and have a positive impact on the wellbeing of everyone, which is why I am delighted to support this campaign."

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