In October 2019, East London Cares opened its doors and began our free Social Clubs to tackle isolation in Tower Hamlets and Hackney by bringing older and younger east Londoners together to share time, laughter, new experiences and friendship.
At the same time, we began our first ever Winter Wellbeing project – targeted outreach to help us identify and invite older people to our activities, to connect neighbours to local services and organisations, and to help our community stay warm, active and connected in a disconnecting time.
Through that project, which identified isolation where it exists – behind closed doors, in supermarkets and chemists, and in our local community – we held 803 face-to-face conversations with older neighbours, helping 267 people to connect to 505 deeper interventions.
We gave talks at 19 community events, knocked on 145 doors in housing estates and sheltered housing units, and received 133 phone calls. We gave out 206 free warm items including hats, gloves, blankets, hot water bottles, flasks and socks, and nine grants of up to £100 – a total of £580. And we partnered with 121 fabulous local organisations who are the lifeblood of our community.
Today, the short and frosty winter days feel distant. The Covid-19 pandemic has forced East London Cares to adapt how we reach and connect older and younger people. But this moment of universal isolation has also revealed the depth of loneliness and disconnection in our communities. Our Winter Wellbeing report highlights many of those local issues, and some of the neighbours who have already benefited from finding new connections in disconnecting times through East London Cares.
They're neighbours like Jeewaun, 81, who has attended 12 online and offline Social Clubs since we met through Winter Wellbeing. Jeewaun told us: “This social club is like Christmas for me, I spend too much time alone and now I’ve found East London Cares, I can come to all your clubs. They’re so much fun!”
Through striking up conversations like these, and taking the time to chat and to listen, we’ve been able to connect so many neighbours. That's what Winter Wellbeing is all about: connecting people to the changing world around us. And it's what East London Cares is about: building deep and meaningful friendships which help people build power to they can navigate that changing world.
As we consider how to further respond to that pandemic to help reduce loneliness in Hackney and Tower Hamlets even more, there is rich learning in our Winter Wellbeing project. Please read the report and infographic below, and get involved to be part of it.
Posted by Sasha Khan on Thursday 28th May 2020
Sasha is the Volunteer and Outreach Coordinator at East London Cares, reaching older and younger neighbours and connecting them to our Social Clubs, Love Your Neighbour programme and Winter Wellbeing project. Previously Sasha has worked at Age UK and Coram, and volunteered at our sibling charity North London Cares.