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Look out for our neighbours this winter

West Yorkshire and Harrogate Health and Care Partnership’s community campaign ‘Looking out for our neighbours’ is back this winter to help prevent loneliness and social isolation.

This next phase builds on the success of the campaign earlier this year when local people carried out over 46,000 acts of kindness in their local neighbourhoods across Bradford district and Craven; Calderdale, Harrogate, Kirklees, Leeds and Wakefield. 72% of people believed that the campaign has made a positive difference to their neighbours’ wellbeing and now the Partnership wants to encourage even more people to get involved.

This is particularly vital during the winter months as people, especially those who are older or vulnerable, can easily become isolated or lonely as a result of bad weather or the added social pressure that comes with the festive season.

According to research from Age UK, over one million older people say they go more than a month without speaking to a friend, neighbour or family member. In addition to this, last year half a million older people across the UK said they expected to feel lonely at Christmas time with 230,000 older people who spend at least one day alone over the Christmas period saying that they have no choice (Age UK, December 2018).

The launch of the winter phase of the campaign aims to once again inspire people to reach out to those who live alone and encourage them to do simple things that will make a real difference to their neighbours’ wellbeing. This could be anything from offering to pick up something from the shops when the weather is bad, to gritting their paths and drives, to inviting people who live alone to celebrate the festive season together.

Rob Webster, CEO Lead for West Yorkshire and Harrogate Health and Care Partnership and CEO for South West Yorkshire Partnership NHS Foundation Trust said: ‘The motivation of all those involved in the campaign earlier this year was overwhelming. It’s heartening to hear what can be achieved when we all come together to offer simple acts of kindness. Many people feel more alone in winter with the long dark nights, especially older neighbours who can go days without seeing or talking to anyone. It’s a very sad fact that can easily be sorted by us all pulling together to do out bit. It can be as easy as saying hello’.

Since the launch of the campaign earlier this year, ‘Looking out for our neighbours’ has received support from over 350 of high-profile supporters including organisations such as Jo Cox Loneliness Foundation, the Yorkshire Ambulance Service, West Yorkshire Police, West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Services and high profile sports clubs and celebrities.

Jo’s sister Kim Leadbeater, Ambassador for The Jo Cox Foundation, said: ‘Many of us can feel lonely during the winter month; that’s why The Jo Cox Foundation is pleased to support the ‘Looking out for our neighbours’ campaign at this time of year. Along with our own Great Winter Get Together (#mincepiemoments), these important initiatives which encourage people to make connections and look out for each other remind us all that we can make a difference in our communities’.

Kate Shurety, Executive Director of the Campaign to End Loneliness, said:

‘Looking for out for your neighbours’ is a fantastic way to reach out to those around you and make more meaningful connections. With more of us living alone than ever before, having people nearby who can look out for each other is becoming increasingly important. Whether it’s looking after a parcel, a plant, a cat, or just sharing a cup of tea, our research shows that 91% of UK adults think small moments of connection can make a big difference to someone who feeling lonely. So check in on your neighbours this winter, because small moments matter.’

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