No Person is an Island; Director’s debut report published
Gloucestershire County Council’s Director of Public Health, Siobhan Farmer, has published her first annual report which highlights how important connecting with others is for good health and wellbeing as well as ways to prevent loneliness.
The Director of Public Health Annual Report 2022, entitled ‘No Person is an Island; Social Connections in Gloucestershire’, also reflects on the challenges everyone faced to maintain their social connections during the pandemic, and how this led to an increase in isolation and loneliness.
During the pandemic, a million more adults across the UK had become chronically lonely, disproportionately affecting young people, people living alone, people on low incomes or unemployed and people with mental health conditions. The report looks at how tackling social isolation and loneliness is not the responsibility of just one organisation or group of people – everyone can play their part in supporting people who may be at risk of experiencing loneliness and enabling communities to have the social connections they need and want.
Siobhan, said, “This year my report reflects on our learning from the pandemic and the importance of connecting with others for our mental and physical wellbeing. We know that having good-quality relationships can help us to live longer, happier lives with fewer mental health challenges. Support from our social networks, for example family and friends, can strengthen our ability to bounce back after stressful situations, and as a result we believe tackling social isolation is something everyone can do. One thing we can all do is check in on someone, be that a friend, family or a neighbour”.
The report also showcases some of the projects and groups working to bring people together in Gloucestershire and provides recommendations of actions that individuals, communities and organisations can take to make sure Gloucestershire is a place which connects people.
The Digital Hubs project has been showcased for its innovative approach to tackle digital exclusion across Gloucestershire. Developed by Forest Voluntary Action Forum and The Adult Transformation Team at Gloucestershire County Council, the project’s aim is to increase digital inclusion across the whole of Gloucestershire in a rolling programme between April 2022 and April 2023. Volunteers meet with people in local venues, from community centres to cafés and pubs, to improve their digital skills. Residents can learn how to use a computer for ordering groceries online or how to video call their families, helping people to get confident with technology and connect with those around them. Find out more and watch their video here.
This year, video case studies have been added to the online version of the report. Hear from Siobhan Farmer and a selection of projects taking place in Gloucestershire online at www.gloucestershire.gov.uk/public-health-report-2022/
What can you do to create a more connected Gloucestershire?
The report highlights how important social connections are for our physical and mental health, and there are steps everyone can take to help prevent loneliness:
- Take time each day to reach out to family and friends. This could be arranging to go for a walk together, a telephone call or text, or a video call with loved ones who you cannot meet in person.
- Join a local community group, sports team, or hobby group to find other like-minded people with similar interest to you.
- Volunteer for a local charity to meet new people, support others and your local community.
- Build up digital resilience to help recognise and manage the risks you may come across when you socialise, explore, or work online. This could look like pausing before you respond to a social media comment, setting yourself a time limit for certain apps or talking to someone you trust about something which has caused concern.
- Reach out to those that may be at increased risk of isolation and loneliness, this could be offering a neighbour a cup of tea or checking if they need help with anything.