Leeds wellbeing co-ordinators continue to combat loneliness

Plea comes after British Red Cross report shows that up to two in five people may be experiencing loneliness since lockdown.

Following a report published by the British Red Cross (Friday 19 June) showing that loneliness has increased during lockdown, the NHS in Leeds is reminding people that they can get help from Linking Leeds, the social prescribing service for the city.

NHS Leeds Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) wants people to take advantage of the wellbeing support offered by Linking Leeds who can refer people to local, non-medical services such as groups who meet up virtually and help to keep people connected. People can self-refer to Linking Leeds by calling 0113 336 7612 or emailing linking.leeds@nhs.net. A team of 36 wellbeing co-ordinators provide initial support over the telephone or online.

The report from the British Red Cross, based on a survey with 2,000 adults across the UK, shows that 41% of UK adults feel lonelier since lockdown and over a quarter (28%) of UK adults agree that they worry something will happen to them and no one will notice.

In Leeds community and voluntary sector organisations have continued to offer support to the city’s residents in an effort to reduce the risk of social isolation and loneliness. This means that many of the services that Linking Leeds refers to are still open. Help is available around mental health and wellbeing, reducing social isolation and loneliness, offering access to key essentials and also support for those who have difficulties communicating or mobility issues.

Dr Alison Best, Associate Medical Director for NHS Leeds Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) said: “The report from the British Red Cross serves as a timely reminder that as we slowly make our way back to our normal lives, we must look to build on the strong community connections some of us have made during lockdown. While it’s difficult to give exact numbers for people in Leeds experiencing loneliness, we know it’s an issue and that’s why last year we invested £4.5 million over three years for Linking Leeds our citywide social prescribing service.

“While in recent weeks we’ve seen great examples of people looking out for each other, sadly not everyone has experienced a new or continued sense of community connection. By checking in on vulnerable or isolated neighbours you will not only improve their sense of wellbeing, you may also be helping to protect and support local NHS services.

“Loneliness has a significant impact on a person’s physical and emotional health. A Health Foundation report (December 2018) highlighted how living alone can make older people 50% more likely to find themselves in A&E than those living with family. Pensioners living alone are also 25% more likely to develop a mental health condition. Social isolation can raise the risk of having a stroke by a third and is considered as unhealthy as smoking 15 cigarettes a day.”

The local NHS is also continuing its #NHSHereForYou campaign to remind people that they should continue to seek medical help should they fall ill or get injured. For conditions that need to be seen quickly but don’t need emergency care people should call NHS 111 or go online www.111.nhs.uk. Anyone concerned about cancer symptoms or an ongoing health condition should contact their GP practice. 999 and A&E should only be used for serious life or limb-threatening emergencies.

Linking Leeds is a citywide service operating in Leeds, run by a group of community and voluntary organisations led by Community Links.

People can contact Linking Leeds directly on 0113 336 7612 or by emailing linking.leeds@nhs.net

ENDS

Notes

For media enquiries please contact:

Issued by the communications team at NHS Leeds CCG. You can contact the team on 0113 84 35528 or 0113 84 35470. Alternatively, please email us: leedsccg.comms@nhs.net

British Red Cross: Life after lockdown: Tackling loneliness among those left behind 

Key findings:

  • Before the pandemic one in five people reported feeling often or always lonely
  • Over a quarter (28%) of UK adults agree that they worry something will happen to them and no one will notice
  • 41% of UK adults report feeling lonelier since lockdown
  • 31% of UK adults often feel alone as though they have no one to turn to
  • 37% of UK adults agree their neighbours are like strangers to them
  • 33% of UK adults haven’t had a meaningful conversation with someone within the last week
  • One third of UK adults are concerned that their loneliness will get worse
  • The majority of the loneliest people live in towns and cities with 51% of people living in urban areas reporting they feel always/often lonely compared to 33% in suburban and 16% in rural areas

 

How people benefit from staying connected

  • Regular phone calls, online activities and wellbeing packages with information and activities to do at home are helping people feel less alone
  • Around three in five UK adults have found messages or support from friends a useful way to stay positive and connected
  • A quarter of UK adults have felt more connected and positive after seeing stories of acts of kindness

Linking Leeds

Linking Leeds is the integrated citywide social prescribing service for people in Leeds. For more information, please visit https://www.commlinks.co.uk/?service=linking-leeds.

Social prescribing helps support a wide range people including those with one or more long-term conditions, those who need support with their mental health, those who are lonely or isolated and those who have complex social needs which affect their wellbeing.

Social prescribing wellbeing coordinators give people time, focus on ‘what matters to me’ and take a holistic approach to people’s health and wellbeing. They connect people to community groups and statutory services for practical and emotional support.