Winter can be a tough time for many. While some spend the festive season gathering with friends and loved ones, others are reminded of their own isolation and this year even more of us will be stuck home alone due to Covid. Luckily, there are many ways we can work together to combat isolation. We’ve turned to community groups from across the country for inspiration for what we can do.
Reach out to people without a home – Don’t Walk Past, Salford
Don’t Walk Past in Salford reach out to people without a home each night, handing out food, clothes and toiletries, aiming to reach as many people as possible. Being homeless can be extremely isolating and lonely. By actively reaching out, Don’t Walk Past provides vital social and wellbeing support to people who might otherwise go without. As some shelters have had to close as a result of COVID, supporting outreach charities this winter is more important than ever.
You can help Don’t Walk Past by donating to their wishlist, or with some money here. If you want to get involved with supporting those without a home in your community this winter, you could also volunteer local to you with Shelter, Crisis or the Salvation Army.
Support people to find companionship with pets – Assisi Animal Sanctuary, Northern Ireland
Animals are important companions for so many people. Assisi Animal Sanctuary’s ‘Outreach Scheme’ allows people in their local Northern Ireland community to feed and care for pets regardless of their income.
Feeling inspired? You can donate here, or volunteer a few hours a week in one of their shops, to enable Assisi Animal Sanctuary to continue their brilliant work.
Come together through a community course or project – Wood for Good, Exeter and The Boiler House, Manchester
Wood for Good support their Exeter community with woodworking projects for adults at risk of social isolation. They provide free short courses and drop in sessions, promoting health and wellbeing as well as the opportunity to learn a new skill and make friends! Wood for Good also has community use items, home & garden items and craft items, which enables people to access useful items and also the social community which provides the items.
One way you can help tackle isolation is by taking part in a program local to you – check out our website for inspiration!
In Manchester, ‘The Boiler House provides a place for the diverse Moss Side community to come together – helping to tackle stigma and alleviate social isolation’. Through a Men’s Shed, a Women’s Shed and also a repair cafe, the Boiler House offers opportunities for the community to build skills, make connections, and to take part in meaningful activity. Sow the City, who run the Boiler House, also provide grounding volunteering roles for those who have been furloughed, made redundant, or are suffering from social isolation across the city.
If you’re getting excited about skills, the Boiler House recommends looking into starting your own Shed. Find out more about the Shed concept, and get involved!
Bring generations together around creative activities – Music 4 Wellbeing, Kent
Music 4 Wellbeing tackles isolation amongst older people in Kent where around 29,500 people aged 65+ live alone. The Music 4 Wellbeing team believe that everyone has the right to be part of their community. So they bring older people together around music and creative activities.
Using creativity as a platform for tackling isolation is a fantastic way to support your community. Why not invite a neighbour along to an (online) class or event local to you and get your creative juices flowing! Check out The Cares Family for ideas for intergenerational social clubs and get involved in some of their online events.
Feeling inspired? If you live in Kent, you can get involved with Music 4 Wellbeing via their website.
Hold a friendly space for people to talk – The Lions Barber Collective, Torquay
The Lions Barber Collective are tackling the taboo surrounding mental health difficulties in men. The collective is an international group of barbers who are trained to provide a non-judgemental ear for clients and to direct those who need it to professionals.
Holding a friendly space for people to come forward and talk is powerful in tackling isolation – sharing thoughts, feelings, and a conversation can be fundamental in helping people to feel more supported.
You can donate to the Lions Barber Collective, or find out how to support them here. If you want to volunteer your ear, The Silver Line runs a confidential befriending service which enables you to chat with someone who’s feeling isolated. If talking’s not your thing, WarriorKind champions the written word in supporting and connecting.
Small acts of connection – The Great Winter Get Together
Jo Cox’s words, ‘we have far more in common than that which divides us’ inspired ‘The Great Get Together’ – and a vision of a more connected and less lonely world. Between December 14th and January 18th, ‘The Great Get Together’ suggests 5 ways to connect with your community: Thank, Show, Reach, Understanding and Help. With a different theme, toolkits and events for each week, there’s plenty of inspiration here for small ways to connect with your community.
You can find out more about how to get involved here. If you want to follow the conversation further, Let’s Talk Loneliness are running a #LetsTalkLoneliness calendar this winter, sharing stories, advice and support for each day of December!
Although isolation and loneliness is a reality for many, it’s easy to address. Together, we can ensure that everyone has a sense of community this winter. Whether with a cup of tea, a phone call or a donation to one of these brilliant groups which work so hard: you can make a difference!