whg gets chatty to tackle loneliness crisis in Walsall

  • 9th March 2023

  • Customers Stronger Communities

Dozens of people are getting chatty this week as they share a cuppa as part of an event to tackle the loneliness crisis in Walsall.

whg has invited customers who have struggled with loneliness or isolation to Willenhall Chart Centre on Thursday 9 March to meet likeminded people and share their stories.

The event coincides with Social Prescribing Day, a day which celebrates how social prescribing can improve health and wellbeing by actively connecting people to activities, groups and services.

The Midland’s landlord uncovered the true extent of loneliness during the COVID-19 pandemic, when it rang 8,000 of its customers to check in on their welfare. Shockingly, almost a third of those contacted were affected by loneliness or isolation.

Its team of social prescribers, which was launched at the start of lockdown, provided a vital lifeline to these people, connecting them to activities, groups and support that improve health and wellbeing. Social Prescribing works with people to offer a social prescription as opposed to medical intervention to help build confidence, reduce loneliness and isolation and support people to achieve their goals.  Since whg’s service began, it has supported 442 customers, with 90% seeing a positive change in their mental health.

One of these customers is Richard. Richard was teetering on suicide after losing his wife during lockdown. He struggled to get bereavement counselling and felt increasingly isolated. One of whg’s social prescribers got in contact with him and gave him a befriender as well as referring him to additional support at Manor Farm Community Centre.

Richard said: “I couldn’t move, I couldn’t go out. I couldn’t let anybody in because of Covid. I was at the lowest point of my entire life.

“It was a relief to have the support of a social prescriber. I’d got somebody to talk to. I’d have been lost without them. It was just that little spark that they found and pulled out of me.

“I’m starting to find myself a life. It’s a different life because my wife was my life. But with the help of whg I’ve got a life again. I can live.”

As part of the event on 9 March, which celebrates those who are starting on their journey and those that have completed their journey through social prescribing, customers will be able to speak to others who may have been in a similar situation to themselves and make new friends. Attendees will also be able to enjoy beauty treatments thanks to volunteers from Walsall College and the MindKind Projects.

Lisa Sylvester, Social Prescribing Manager, said: “When you are feeling lonely, it’s so easy to think you are the only person in that situation. In fact, anyone can feel lonely and probably everyone has at some point. This event aims to bring together all our customers who may have struggled with feeling isolated at some point, so that they can see they are not alone and that there is so much support available to them.”

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