Community Lincs has worked closely with Springline GNS during the past four years, tapping into their knowledge and experience to help us develop GNS good practice more widely across the county. During 2019, Community Lincs has aided the development of six new live GNSs and worked in partnership with Springline GNS and all other new schemes to establish Lincolnshire GNS Network meetings and on-line forums enabling discussion of ideas and share best practice to ensure safe and quality GNS support.
Springline Good Neighbours (SGNS) was formed in 2006, operating across nine communities just north of Lincoln, from Burton Waters north to Fillingham.
To date we have achieved the following:
- Our scheme completed over 3300 assignments
- We currently we have 96 clients and 41 volunteers.
- We operate a coffee morning on the first Saturday of each month in Ingham, assist the Glentworth Tuesday Lunch Club.
- This year, we were awarded the “Community Group of the Year” in the 2019 Good Citizens Awards.
In 2018 we completed a new strategic plan to give us a framework for the next five years. This highlighted many of the usual expected weaknesses and strengths, but provided the discipline to look ahead at what the opportunities might be for us.
Recent research has highlighted that amongst the over-75’s living alone, 52% reported being lonely; of these 27% reported only social contact per week, with 11% reporting only one social contact every month. In particular, widowers are very susceptible, in an age when families are widely dispersed, when in previous generations they would be living close by. By taking our cue from national statistics, we are able to estimate that within our own nine communities there are about 400 elderly people living alone, so it is likely that many of these are lonely.
We believe this is not acceptable and as such we are developing ways to reach lonely people, who are often reluctant to self-refer. Until now, our operating model has been reactive – we respond to requests for support. Our ambition is to become pro-active, reaching out to those that might be lonely and offering a “visiting” service (we do not like the word “befriending” as our clients do not like it at all!).
We are working closely with the local Medical Practice in Ingham to launch a simple scheme later this year. All front-line medical staff will have small wallet size cards to hand out and encourage patients at risk of isolation to get in touch with us. We are also undertaking some trustee and volunteer training in befriending.
On October 19th we are launching “Good Neighbours Week”. We have been able to fund this thanks to a Community Development Fund grant from Lincolnshire County Council.
During this week we will be offering the following initiatives:
- We will be holding social events to raise funds, including an inter-village quiz night.
- We are issuing a “challenge” to the communities to make contact with someone living alone and “Take a Cake” and have a
- We are calling for all those interested in the “Men’s Sheds” to come to an open meeting – although SGNS will not be running this project but we are just helping at this stage.
- We are inviting local media interest and therefore widen awareness.
Our greatest challenge is volunteer recruitment. We badly need more and we are embarking on a local campaign to raise interest by producing some banners for use in public places and local events.
We are on a learning curve and are pleased to have been able to support Community Lincs with what we have learnt along the way, but we hope that if our “Good Neighbours Week” attracts enough interest, we can see this roll out to all GNS schemes in future – enabling us to all build greater awareness of the issues of isolation.
Find out how you can get involved by visiting our website at https://www.springlinegns.org.uk/