Published on: Thursday 12 Mar 2020 at 14:24
A milestone achievement for Compassionate Neighbours at St Clare
The Compassionate Neighbours project at St Clare Hospice has made 100 matches between our volunteers and local people in the community, who are living with a life-limiting illness and experiencing social isolation.
The project, now running throughout 11 hospices throughout the UK, adopts a community, volunteer-led approach to tackling loneliness through ‘matching’ people together, who then build a mutual relationship and meet up on a regular basis for a cup of tea and chat.
Since St Clare launched the project in West Essex and East Hertfordshire in 2018, we have made 103 matches and trained 111 Compassionate Neighbours volunteers – touching the lives of more than a hundred local people who self-identified as lonely and socially isolated.
“When you become unwell with a life-limiting illness, or are coping with frailty, your experience of ‘normal life’ can change,” explains Stacey Towler, Compassionate Neighbours Project Manager at St Clare Hospice. “You may not be able to go out and do the things you enjoy as much; you may spend lots of time having appointments; and day-to-day life and interactions become more difficult and less regular.
Stacey continues, “As a result of this, people’s confidence can decrease and they often reflect that they feel lonely and socially isolated. That’s where the Compassionate Neighbours project can offer a real lifeline for people; it’s a way of initiating a genuine friendship between two people, who can then take that forward in a way that they both enjoy.”
“This is a huge achievement for the Hospice and forms part of our strategic mission to reach more people who need us,” adds Stacey, “however, there are still many local people who are living with a life-limiting condition who are facing their journey alone.
“According to 2019 UK government statistics, disabled people living in England are four times more likely to feel lonely ‘often or always’ than non-disabled people. The need for programmes such as the Compassionate Neighbours project is at an all time high – as statistics like these haven’t shown any improvement for the past half a decade.
“That’s why we’re looking to continue developing the project throughout the local area – so that we can work towards putting an end to social isolation for the people who live alongside us. Local people like mums, dads, nans, grandads, aunts, uncles, friends, neighbours. People who feel lonely who just need somebody to reach out, to help empower them to do the things they enjoy – like going to the cinema, or fishing, or visiting a special place.”
Become a Compassionate Neighbour
If you’d like to join the Compassionate Neighbours project as a volunteer with St Clare Hospice, you’ll offer an hour every week to visit someone in your local community. Becoming a Compassionate Neighbour involves enrolling on a two-day training course to learn more about the project, and how to make the most from the role.
For more information, and to apply to join the team, visit St Clare’s website at stclarehospice.org.uk/your-community/compassionate-neighbours/get-involved
Alternatively, contact Stacey Towler directly on 01279 773729 or [email protected]