Just before Christmas, Nottingham City Council and their partners put a wall up in the central square of the City. In this blog, Nottingham City Council’s Steve Thorne tells us why.
There’s been a lot of talk about building walls lately – but Nottingham’s Wall is about connecting people with each other, not dividing them. The Wall is a montage of photos of local people who are making a difference by helping others – friends, families, and co-workers were able to nominate people for the Wall by taking their pictures and sending them in.
Our Wall is part of a public campaign run by the Looking After Each Other Programme to raise awareness of the different things people can do to help others in their community, and celebrate those who are helping. Our hope is that – together with other initiatives – awareness-raising will increase the number of people who are helping out in their community, or volunteering in vital services that support people who might otherwise be alone.
We know that many people in Nottingham are lonely or isolated – in this country, more than a million older people go at least a month without talking to anyone, and many younger people, including new parents, don’t have the social support networks they need.
Many excellent projects across our country are testing out different approaches to supporting isolated people, and ensuring they have the social support they need. But if we want to prevent people from becoming lonely or isolated, we also need to take a closer look at what is happening in our local communities, and understand better how we can make our communities more supportive places to live, for everyone.
The stories that people sent to us for the Wall of Champions showed the very real difference local people are making to others in their community, often despite facing difficulties themselves. In many cases, their stories are stories of isolation – or harm because of isolation – being prevented by a community member.
Here are just a few of the stories we were sent:
“Next door to my mum is a very elderly lady aged 87. My mum suffers herself from arthritis and asthma but will help anyone if she can. My mum Shirley still manages to get shopping for her neighbour and is a listening ear for her when she feels down for ‘feeling young in the mind but so tired in the body’ and has taken her out a couple of times. She goes to see her every day. . . “
“Helping others has transformed David’s life. Until he started volunteering he would rarely leave his house due to social anxiety. He now volunteers regularly this has included helping people with disabilities with DIY through Disability Direct and general handy person at Age UK. Helping others makes him and others smile every day!”
“Sarah is the legend behind Emmanuel House’s Nottingham Winter Shelter. Her countless volunteer hours, setting up, moving and making sure the shelter is fully stocked means that homeless people can get off the streets and into a basic bed with something warm to eat each evening.“
We know we have only just begun to address the question of communities and loneliness prevention – we would love to hear from others who are also working on this.
Looking After Each Other is a partnership campaign being run by Nottingham City Council with Nottingham City NHS Clinical Commissioning Group and Nottingham Council for Voluntary Service. It is funded by a grant from The Better Care Fund. You can contact us at Lookingaftereachother@nottinghamcity.gov.uk