Tackling Rural Loneliness & Isolation

CCB’s function as a rural community development charity means that much of our work is about developing and maintaining connections within communities. This community development principle is central to the theme of loneliness and isolation.

Plenty of research exists into the causes of loneliness and ways of reducing its impact. We know that people of all ages can feel lonely at times, even when surrounded by people. This is a priority issue for Government, and large sections of the voluntary sector are, and always have been, working to support people of all ages impacted by loneliness.

We are looking at the kinds of activities, groups and opportunities for social interaction that are particularly effective at reducing the risk of loneliness, and will provide advice and guidance to any community interested in broadening the range of social activities available to people there.

In 2020 CCB partnered with Get Berkshire Active to launch the ‘Activating Community Halls’ project. During 2021 this project has seen new exercise classes launched in rural village halls and community centres across Berkshire. These exercise classes have been particularly targeted at people that may have not accessed classes before including youth groups, older people and those with long term health issues and has successfully bought people together in a fun, active way.

In February 2019 CCB  joined with colleagues from the Volunteer Centre West Berkshire at an event hosted by then Newbury Constituency MP Richard Benyon called Beyond the Front Door: A Conference on Loneliness and Isolation. Over 90 people filled the Fair Close Day Centre in Newbury to discuss the causes of loneliness, how it impacts people from all age groups and what can be done to reduce its impact.

The following video was produced by That’s Thames Valley news, who attended the event and compiled the following report:

Know where to find rural help and support

Women’s Institutes – More fun-and-friendship than jam-and-Jerusalem, the WI has 6,300 local groups that are just as likely to indulge in yogawild swimming and belly dancing as flower arranging and cake baking (thewi.org.uk).

Young Farmers – This membership-based network for young people isn’t just for those from agricultural backgrounds. Local clubs are run by members for members and offer (usually) weekly opportunities to socialise, volunteer and learn new skills (nfyfc.org.uk)

Men’s Sheds Association – A network of places in urban and rural locations where men of all ages (and sometimes women) come together to share tools, skills and social interaction (menssheds.org.uk).

ACRE – The umbrella group for England’s 38 Rural Community Councils, which can provide advice and source funding to help small community projects (acre.org.uk). Also see Wales Council for Voluntary Action (wcva.org.uk); Scottish Community Councils (communitycouncils.scot) and Rural Community Network in Northern Ireland (ruralcommunitynetwork.org).

MIND – Charity providing help and support on mental-health issues. It has a network of local groups that offer counselling, befriending and crisis lines, and its Elefriends online community is a supportive platform for sharing stories and advice (mind.org.uk).

YoungMinds – Charity committed to improving the emotional wellbeing and mental health of children and young people (youngminds.org.uk).

Age UK – As part of its work to support older people, the charity campaigns on loneliness and works with its 150-plus local branches to offer befriending and other services (ageuk.org.uk).

Campaign to End Loneliness – Network of national and local organisations and people working together to ensure loneliness is acted upon as a public health priority (campaigntoendloneliness.org).

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