The Open arms project continues to listen to communities who want to take action to tackle loneliness across Peterborough and Cambridgeshire. It is encouraging to see small things can make a big difference to people’s lives. This was demonstrated to me recently whilst on a visit to a local care home in Fenland. Some young mums had got together and decided to take their children to visit a local care home. To see the eyes of one of the residents who struggles to communicate light up at the sight of a child playing with their toys is special. It is a welcome reminder of the power of human connection. It is these moments that make it all worth it.
As we move into Winter, Open Arms is looking forward to working with the Princes Trust and the volunteer Police cadets in residential care settings in both the North and the South of the county. We are a sharing our message that small moments of connection are vital in tackling loneliness across the county during the re launch of the 50,000 reasons campaign. We are looking forward to continuing to develop small partnerships with those who want to take action in their community. We have been looking for opportunities to bring some Christmas cheer and reaching out to those who are less well connected. If everyone plays a part by taking small actions, the result is that communities come together stronger.
The Open Arms Project has expanded into new areas and reached over 1000 people. Through workshops and visits, around 50 community groups are delivering inputs and sharing simple strategies that help them to build connections.
Early findings and feedback show that providing activities in this way helps people gain confidence to take action and reach out to the vulnerable in their communities by giving and sharing which in turn boosts happiness in the community.
In June Open Arms teamed up with a Play park in Wisbech. The idea was to hold a Big Lunch to build relationships with the local community due to some antisocial behaviour around the play park. Despite it being a wet day a small group of local people were welcomed into the play park for a cuppa and bite to eat in a space that normally a hive of activity for children of all ages
An elderly neighbour attended the event and highlighted that they didn’t get out and was feeling lonely a lot of the time. As a result of a conversation it was decided to hold a regular coffee morning at the play park every two weeks. On the first occasion 3 people attended, the group grew to 11 and the next one brought 30 people together from the community! Open Arms got the PTA at the local school involved with the coffee morning providing more links for people in the community.
This week it was noticed that the elderly neighbour was not present. This resulted in a visit to their home, they were found to have become ill so others from the group arranged a doctor’s appointment and transport, got some shopping in and one offered to take food round and keep an eye out for this person.
The Open Arms Project is funded for 12 months by The National Lottery Community Fund, working with communities across Cambridgeshire and Peterborough, to take action against loneliness for their elderly.
We enable communities to focus on what is already strong within their locality and look for opportunities to build on these strengths by connecting local assets and people. By working in this way we develop opportunities to connect people together to prevent loneliness.
The Team are taking preventative measures for the future through inter-generational projects, a vital way to educate our adults of tomorrow; benefiting young people’s personal development and understanding. By spending time with older people, they can gain insight into the impacts of old age and how this can lead to isolation.
Open Arms is also looking to work with small businesses, for example a local fish and chip shop or café may have regular contact with an older person who is on their own and would like to know how they could help that person connect with others. We will support businesses to develop their ideas for interacting with the elderly, encouraging practices that promote connection, for example Sit and Chat tables.
We are keen to hear from residents and communities who have ideas and the desire to take action but might not quite know how. Please contact Adam if you would like to know more abut OpenArms or how you can get involved.