9 December 2015

Thinking of you at Christmas

Support scheme – and festive hampers – could help more than 100 vulnerable people in Woodingdean

Brighton & Hove City Council’s CareLink Plus community alarm service has teamed up with more than a dozen other agencies and groups to pilot a new scheme offering extra support to lonely and isolated older people in Woodingdean over the festive period.

‘Thinking of You at Christmas’ is being co-ordinated by Brighton & Hove charity Time to Talk Befriending. It brings together CareLink Plus, Sussex Police, Woodingdean’s Neighbourhood Watch, Age UK, the city’s Fed Centre for Independent Living, local churches and other local groups.

The aim of the project is to reach out to older people in Woodingdean who don’t have any family or friends living near them.

Caring and sympathetic ‘community befrienders’ will be providing direct, face-to-face contact with people, offering a single point of contact for all sorts of issues including loneliness and depression, health problems and worries about personal security and crime.

Woodingdean has been chosen to trial the scheme because it has one of the largest proportions of older people in the city, combined with a higher than average proportion of people with long-term illnesses.

The project has made initial contact with more than 100 residents who have been identified by the partners in the scheme as people who might benefit from further support.

Just before Christmas, project partners will work together to deliver small Christmas hampers as well as personalised Christmas cards made by local children and young people to these people to let them know they are being thought about over Christmas. The hampers are being provided by local churches with support from Waitrose Hove.

Research has shown that schemes where trained individuals make direct contact with older people and build trusting relationships with them can have a massive effect on older people’s sense of wellbeing.

The council’s lead member for adult social care, Councillor Karen Barford, said: “CareLink Plus supports over 5,000 vulnerable people across Brighton & Hove, and this is a great way to extend their support further.

“We want to help people continue to live independently wherever possible, and we’re excited about coordinating with other agencies to reach out to people who may be alone during the festive season.

“The ‘Thinking of You at Christmas’ scheme has our full support. If it’s successful we hope it can be expanded to other areas of the city.”

If you would like to find out more about becoming a ‘community befriender’ for this project, please email info@timetotalkbefriending.org.uk or phone Time to Talk Befriending on 01273 737710.