As the autumn leaves start to fall and settle, the prospect of winter has most of us reaching for warmer clothes, spending more time indoors with our loved ones, planning fun festivities, and turning up the heating at home. But for many older neighbours we see and meet, all year round, the approach of winter is much more daunting.
Winter can be an incredibly lonely, challenging and of course, cold time of year, and for many of your neighbours, that cold isn’t just outside, it’s inside their homes too.
As the temperature drops, neighbours are faced with new difficulties in managing their health conditions, a real threat to their physical and mental wellbeing, and a struggle to just simply stay warm. That can mean turning up the heating only to face the pressure of rising bills. A loss of financial stability can leave neighbours choosing between paying their energy bills and eating a warm meal. Icy conditions and shorter days can lead to falls, a knock to one’s confidence, and real social isolation, with neighbours unable to leave the house or welcome visitors.
Winter Wellbeing is our annual response to help people who are over 65 and living in Islington & Camden to stay warm, active, and connected at an otherwise challenging time of year. Last year, we spoke to over 1000 older neighbours and supported 339 with deeper interventions. 33 people, in urgent need, received a small grant to ease anxieties over fuel costs and 334 items of warm clothing were delivered to neighbours struggling to keep warm. During outreach, we visit sheltered housing units, GP surgeries, libraries, community centres, pharmacies, and community events where we re-connected older neighbours with their communities.
For Winter Wellbeing 2019/20, we will:
- Knock on the doors of over 600 older neighbours to check they are keeping warm, active, and connected - and to let them know that we care and are here to support them.
- Deliver hot water bottles, blankets or thermal items of clothing to older neighbours’ homes.
- Signpost older neighbours to organisations who can help with keeping their homes warm and safe, give benefits advice, and help reduce bills.
- Help older neighbours to access physical and mental health services.
- Arrange small grants for people in extremely difficult circumstances who are struggling to keep their home warm and to fill the fridge.
- We will offer to pay bills and buy food vouchers where applicable.
- Connect older neighbours to social activities in their area, this winter, and all year round.
It's safe to say Winter Wellbeing is a source of great pride here at North London Cares and a feat which we certainly couldn’t do without the incredible support and hard work of our community partners - helping us to make the 9th year our most collaborative yet!
How your organisation can get involved:
- Have a Winter Wellbeing pop-up at your location – we’re happy to come and speak to your staff teams or older neighbours in your network;
- Refer older neighbours who you think may need extra support – or those who are no longer able to attend your activities;
We would love to hear from you if you:
- Know someone who is over 65, and living in Camden or Islington, who could benefit from a visit or call;
- Would like to offer your support to the project by volunteering, fundraising or helping to spread the word;
- Are an organisation in Camden or Islington, who wants to get involved with Winter Wellbeing.
Working in partnership with the community is at the heart of everything we do here at North London Cares and opens up doors for neighbours in need of life-enhancing information, resources and activities.
Posted by Juliet McNelly on Thursday 3rd October 2019
Juliet is an Outreach Officer at North London Cares