A new campaign to tackle loneliness in the district is being launched today.
The ‘looking out for our neighbours’ project aims to prevent loneliness in the community by encouraging people to engage in simple acts of kindness that will make a huge difference to the people around them, such as meeting for a coffee, offering a lift or even just saying ‘hello’.
The scheme is run by the West Yorkshire and Harrogate Health and Care Partnership and is supported by the NHS Wakefield Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG).
It comes after a report by the Health Foundation found that older people who live alone are 50 per cent more likely to find themselves in A&E and are 25 per cent more likely to develop a mental health condition than those who live with family.
The campaign has been co-created with more than 100 residents in the area and draws on their personal experiences.
Jo Webster, chief officer at NHS Wakefield CCG, said: “It is really about recognising that loneliness affects a lot of people, and not just older people.
“It has a massive effect on physical and mental health, and we want to show that small gestures really can help.
“Knock on your neighbour’s door when you haven’t seen them in a while, or go over and say hi to that boy in the street who always has his head down.
“Communities are becoming more isolated and mental health problems are rising, so we want to get behind local people as much as we can.”
Other supporters of the project include the Jo Cox Loneliness Foundation, the Yorkshire Ambulance Service and male support group Andy’s Man Club.
Karl Jordan, Facilitator at the Wakefield branch of Andy’s Man Club, said: “Before I came here I was looking into it and there are statistics that a lot of men over 35 don’t have many close friends to turn to, which has a massive impact on their mental wellbeing.”
As part of the campaign launch, 30,000 households across West Yorkshire and Harrogate will receive a hand-delivered ‘neighbour pack’ that will include resources to inspire residents to look out for a neighbour in need.
Visit ourneighbours.org.uk for more information.