Column - Community matters by Fiona Turner, Communities and Network Officer, ERVAS

Fiona Turner, Communities and Network Officer, ERVAS.

Fiona Turner, Communities and Network Officer, ERVAS.

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Whether living in a busy town centre or small village, social isolation and loneliness are well known as causes of depression, mental health problems and physical illness. They are conditions usually associated with older people, who may experience retirement, loss of a partner or children moving away.

As part of the East Riding of Yorkshire Better Care Programme a number of voluntary community organisations (East Riding Voluntary Action Service, Humber and Wolds Rural Community Council, The Courtyard at Goole and SHoRes at Withernsea) joined together to offer local people a way of getting involved in their community.

Volunteers can use the NHS Choices website to find out information.

Volunteers can use the NHS Choices website to find out information.

The scheme brings together health, social care and voluntary sector professionals to identify wider health and wellbeing support for people, who may feel lonely, isolated, fed up and unoccupied who are looking for a social activity, hobby or enjoyable form of exercise.

The aim is to help people, particularly those who are vulnerable to social isolation and loneliness, to increase their social contact with people, develop new relationships and friendships, participate in social activities, feel more useful, and believe they have an increased purpose in life. In turn this will help people to feel well and healthier, reducing their need and reliance on health and social services.

Taking part is very simple. People can be referred through their GP, district nurse, social worker, care co-ordinator or any other health or social care professional. People can also contact the project themselves.

A local co-ordinator will make contact, discuss what community services and activities of interest could help, introduce the person to the service or activity and help overcome any access difficulties for example poor mobility, transport or low confidence.

In Bridlington, volunteers based within certain GP surgeries are able to search for information on groups, activities, opportunities and support services. They can also use the NHS Choices website to find out information on ailments and treatments on behalf of patients.

If you feel you could benefit from this service, would like to find out more or would be interested in volunteering to help to connect people to their local community, groups and activities in the Bridlington area, East Riding Voluntary Action Service (ERVAS) provides the local co-ordination and can be contacted on 01482 871077 or by email: voluntary.servicesreferrals@nhs.net.