The Second SSF Loneliness Summit, 2018

The SSF, in conjunction with Robert Buckland MP, hosted the second Loneliness Summit at Lawn Community Centre on Friday, 20 April 2018. The event was attended by representatives from key local organisations and charities in Swindon.

Key speaker, Seema Kennedy MP, related how she became a Co-chair of the Jo Cox Commission on Loneliness, having herself experienced isolation following the birth of her son. She explained the tireless work of the National Commission on Loneliness and her determination to involve other parties in the quest to combat loneliness.

Sue Dunmore from Swindon Volunteers Centre explained how volunteering can help tackle loneliness and Sarah Bird from Timebanking UK spoke about how timebanking can increase self-esteem to combat loneliness and isolation through contribution to local communities.

Minister for the Cabinet Office, David Liddington MP, updated the audience on the work of Tracey Crouch MP, the new Government Minister for Loneliness who is co-ordinating a Cross Ministerial Task Force. He explained that this task force are currently assembling a body of evidence to form a policy on loneliness.

At the end of the event, a Q&A panel consisting of key local organizations provided updates on work taking place across the town to combat loneliness and the idea of a directory of services and a community timetable was discussed.

The First Loneliness Summit, 2017

On Friday 30th June 2017 Robert Buckland MP and Swindon Seniors Forum hosted the first SSF Loneliness Summit in Swindon.

Overview

The Summit, which took place at the Lawn Community Centre, aimed to get the people who are best placed to tackle loneliness in one room to get them talking about the issue.

We had a fantastic turnout with representatives from Swindon Borough Council, older people’s groups, police, Swindon circles, Clinical Commissioning Group, Mental Health, the voluntary sector and community groups.

There was a great buzz in the room and many of our attendees told us they had learned something new, made valuable new connections and were – most importantly – going to come together and make things happen in their work or community.

A powerful video featuring interviews with three over 55s in Swindon left attendees in no doubt as to the prevalence of the problem and the devastating impact it can have on those who don’t know where to turn, those who have lost their confidence.

Swindon Seniors Forum and Robert Buckland will continue to work hard to bring about an end to loneliness in Swindon.

Norma Thompson, SSF

Good afternoon every one, it's great to see you all here, thank you for coming. My name is Norma and I am chair of the Swindon Seniors Form. This summit brings together experts from charities, academia and the health and care sectors to discuss the negative impact loneliness has on health in Swindon. THIS summit seeks to explore and share best practice across the third sector tackling this issue and highlighting how we can all make a difference, some small some big, leading to a better future for everyone.” The Campaign to End Loneliness was launched in 2011 by five charities:

The campaign is now supported by over 250 organisations. Organisational barriers and brand egos have been put aside to tell the tale of a massive gap in our lives. For individuals, a painful gap between the bonds we crave with others and the ones we actually have. For communities, an ugly tear in our social fabric. Swindon Seniors Forum is a non-political group and was founded in November 2011 to be a voice for people over the age of 55 years within the Borough of Swindon. Our Management Committee consists have, between us, of nine volunteers who have between them strong connections with other voluntary and statutory organisations that work with local people over the age of 55. The Management Committee meets four times a year and holds two annual Open Meetings for its 212 members.

The Campaign to End Loneliness wants to see local authorities across the country taking a lead on tackling loneliness in their communities and we were delighted that Andy Nazer, Campaign ambassador, spoke at our Open Meeting in April 2016 as part of that very important event on combating loneliness.

In October 2016 we conducted a small online, email and postal survey with our members on ‘Loneliness and Isolation’ to help identify problems and gather information to inform decisions being made to deal with these issues as they affect older people. 85 People responded to that survey. Robert Buckland , Our local South Swindon MP and Swindon Seniors Forum organised this summit to bring together key local organisations and members of the Forum to discuss what can be done to tackle loneliness in Swindon.

Robert Buckland MP

Following the summit, Robert Buckland MP announced in his July 2017 Newsletter that he will continue to work to support two 'brilliant local initiatives': the SSF and Swindon Circles. Under the heading of "Swindon Loneliness Summit" , the July 2017 edition of Robert Buckland's newsletter relates: One of the main problems affecting the lives and well-being of older people is loneliness. Human beings are social animals, but the prospect of having hours and even days without talking to another living soul is being faced every day by many of our older Swindon residents.

I recently held a Loneliness Summit with Swindon Seniors Forum as part of a local campaign to help tackle this issue.

The event saw representatives from the police, the NHS, Swindon Borough Council and the third sector join forces in a bid to make a real difference to what is an ever-growing problem.

We are very fortunate here in Swindon to have groups such as Swindon Seniors Forum who actively engage with older people from all backgrounds across the town on a wide range of issues.

We also have Swindon Circles, which has been making a real difference to the lives of elderly people. Volunteers from the project regularly visit more than 300 elderly people who are experiencing loneliness and social isolation.

I have worked closely with both of these groups in the past and have seen first-hand the difference that they are making to the lives of elderly people in the town. I will continue to work to support both of these brilliant local initiatives.

In The Press

A number of stakeholders were represented at the Summit. The Swindon Advertiser reported on 2 July 2017: LONELINESS was brought front and centre on Friday as the key organisations engaged in tackling the problem came together at a single summit.

Organised by MP Robert Buckland in conjunction with the Swindon Seniors Forum, the event saw representatives from the police, the NHS, Swindon Borough Council, and the third sector join forces in a bid to make a real difference to what is an ever-growing problem.

Opening the event, Mr Buckland explained that a coordinated approach where organisations from different sectors worked together was important in the campaign to tackle the issue of loneliness.

"Loneliness can be felt by people of all ages," he added. "But as we get older, risk factors begin to increase and converge. The impact can be devastating and costly to society as well as to the individual.

"We are very fortunate here in Swindon to have groups such as Swindon Seniors Forum who actively engage with older people from all backgrounds across the town on a wide range of issues.

"We also have Swindon Circles which has been making a real difference to the lives of elderly people. Volunteers from the project regularly visit more than 300 elderly people who are experiencing loneliness and social isolation.

"This event is about coming together and sharing information and resources and coming up with further plans on what we can all do to tackle loneliness in Swindon."

The event saw speakers from the police, the council and the local mental health trust explain how they were trying to improve the way they serve the elderly and the way they identify warning signs of loneliness and confusion.

A powerful video featuring interviews with three elderly women in Swindon left attendees in no doubt as to the prevalence of the problem and the devastating impact it can have on those who don't know where to turn.

With 31,000 pensioners in Swindon, almost 15,000 of them aged 75 or over, the discussion around how to provide the greatest and most effective level of support is crucial.

Friday's summit was just the start of the process and the organisers hope it will act as a spark for further cooperation and inter-agency working.

In the interim, the council is looking to put together a one-stop online resource to provide further information on the support for those experiencing loneliness that is already available in Swindon.

If you would like to do more to help directly, you can also visit do-it.org to search for volunteering opportunities.