We asked South London Cares to tell us about its ‘Winter Wellbeing Campaign’, a pro-active outreach project to help people over 65 stay warm, active, healthy and connected during the winter months.
It’s already starting to feel like winter. For most people, the long run-up to Christmas is a time of excitement. But if you’re one of our older neighbours, winter weather is far from fun.
For many, the changing of the seasons brings a number of concerns. Prolonged periods of cold weather can lead to health problems, crippling heating bills and facing the awful choice between paying for food or heat. It can also be a very lonely time, as the days get shorter.
Slippery ground destroys people’s confidence and forces them to stay home and away from their usual activities. At a time when other people are out and about enjoying themselves, the winter months can lead to deeper feelings of isolation and loneliness.
That’s why we’re proud to shine a spotlight on the Winter Wellbeing campaign being run by the Cares Family of charities (North and South London Cares, and their northern counterparts Manchester and Liverpool Cares).
From now through to March 2019, the Cares Family is embarking on volunteering initiatives aimed at ensuring older neighbours across London, Liverpool and Manchester feel supported and better connected to the communities around them.
They’ll be doing this through door knocking, phone calls and speaking to people at local supermarkets, libraries, GP surgeries and community centres. They’ll also be spreading awareness about the importance of keeping warm and well during the winter months, when the chances of people contracting life-threatening health problems, such as chest infections, flu and pneumonia spikes dramatically.
Last year’s campaign – by the numbers
We asked Charlie Jamieson, who is the South London Cares Development Co-ordinator to tell us the campaign. “Last year we held 1,420 conversations with older neighbours in the South London boroughs of Lambeth and Southwark. Of those people, we made 715 individual interventions for those who needed help staying warm, active, healthy and connected.
“We arranged winter heating grants of up to £100 each for 30 people in most urgent need and we helped to deliver almost 300 warm items (such as clothing and blankets) across the boroughs. We went along to 50 community events and referred 237 people on to other brilliant local organisations. What we do works, because the whole community gets involved.”
Winter Wellbeing 2018-2019
The Cares Family offers support to the older neighbours of local communities all-year-round, but this year’s Winter Wellbeing campaign promises to be the Cares Family’s most collaborative effort yet. Activities will focus on the following key areas:
- Delivering blankets, hats, socks and gloves to older people who are struggling to keep warm;
- Supporting people whose circumstance are particularly difficult with winter grants of up to £100 which can be used for fuel bills, winter coats and other items to help with the cold;
- Helping connect people to organisations who can provide benefits and energy saving advice as well as help at home with broken boilers, changing providers and installing draught prevention measures;
- Signing people up to our free monthly Social Clubs which run year round – including technology workshops, dances and visits to local museums and galleries;
- Matching older neighbours up with younger volunteers for weekly visits through our Love Your Neighbour programme for friendship, company and a chat.
Thoughts from an Octopus Giving volunteer
Sam Bravery is the Business and Operations Manager within Octopus Labs. He’s also been volunteering for North and South London Cares since 2015. Sam says: “During last year’s Winter Wellbeing campaign I spent a day knocking on doors – really just to help make sure people had everything they needed during the colder months, and to let them know what services were available to them, everything from socks and blankets to help with their heating bills.”
How can people get involved?
The first step is to sign up to become a volunteer. The Cares Family is always looking for people who would like to offer their support by volunteering, fundraising or helping to spread the word. But there are other things you can do. If you have an older neighbour who could use some extra support, assistance or company during the winter months, let the Cares Family know.
South London Cares is hosting a pop-up screening of Christmas classic ‘Elf’, starring Will Ferrell, at the Elephant & Castle on 4 December. Book your tickets now.