Hampshire to get £566,000 funding to tackle loneliness with transport
Older people in Hampshire will soon be able to access new, greener community transport to help them stay connected to the people and activities they love.
A coalition of organisations have been successful in winning a government grant of £566,000 from the Department of Transport to trial new innovative approaches to tackling loneliness through transport across Hampshire.
Three charities (Good Neighbours Network, Age Concern Hampshire and MHA Hampshire) will be investing in electric transportation and new programmes of activity designed to help reduce or prevent loneliness. The programme will be evaluated by local academic partners at the University of Winchester and overseen by Action Hampshire.
The bid is also supported by Hampshire County Council and the Hampshire and Isle of Wight Integrated Care System. This will include training provided by the national Campaign to End Loneliness.
The Communities Tackling Loneliness with Transport in Hampshire scheme will include three pilots, aimed at reducing loneliness across rural and urban populations in the county. The first is an e-bicycle based shopping delivery service, the second an accessible community transport pilot and the third will pilot the use of leased electric cars.
Long term loneliness can have a major impact on physical, mental and emotional health. As well as the impact it has on individual, loneliness has broader implications for communities and society. People who are lonely are more likely to visit the GP more often, have longer stays in hospital and are more likely to enter residential care and suffer from long term health issues such as diabetes, depression and stress.
Leah Campbell, CEO of Action Hampshire, said: “This is great news for Hampshire’s Voluntary, Community and Social Enterprise Sector. We know that supporting people’s relationships by keeping them connected and delivering local affordable transport options based in their communities, have a huge impact on preventing loneliness and maintaining independence in later life.
As communities, we can take action to help remove some of the obstacles people may face in creating create and sustaining connections. As a sector, VCSE organisations often offer a more personalised response: rather than someone simply being a ‘service user’, they are more likely to be seen holistically – and we hope these pilots will help demonstrate that.”
Dr Debra Gray, Reader in Social Psychology and Director of the Volunteering Research & Innovation Hub at the University of Winchester said: “This investment will mean we can learn more about the impact community transport schemes, including those run by volunteers, can have on loneliness, particularly among those older residents who may also be impacted by low income and living in remote areas. We will also be sharing learning more widely so that other community groups can look at how they can also make an impact on loneliness through their work.”
Helen Callen, CEO of Age Concern Hampshire said: “We are delighted to be partners on this exciting programme. The community transport will enable us to extend the reach of our services and help improve the quality of life for older people in Hampshire.”
The Reverend Canon Nick Ralph, Executive Director of Council for Social Responsibility which hosts the Good Neighbours Network, said: “The work of our network involves more than 4000 volunteers working to help keep people independent in their own homes. Our new e-bike delivery service will connect older residents with new, younger volunteers in line with our ethos: people looking after people in their own communities.”
Jonathan Mace, Director of Communities at MHA, said: “This project gives us an opportunity to work innovatively, using environmentally friendly vehicles to transport older people to social activities and help reduce the risk of loneliness.”
Ros Hartley, Director of Partnerships at Hampshire and Isle of Wight ICS, said: “This programme is a great example of multiple partners working together on a shared priority and we look forward to seeing the learning shared across our health and social care system – enabling us to build resilient communities for the future.”
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