Scheme to tackle social isolation launched

A new scheme to help tackle loneliness and social isolation has been launched by Malvern Hills District Council.

The South Worcestershire Rural Communities programme is being trialled in Tenbury, Kempsey, Alfrick & Leigh and Morton wards, which were identified as having the largest potential number of people who are socially excluded. It is estimated as many as 250 older people could be suffering from loneliness and isolation in those areas.

A series of door knocks will take place to identify individuals and support offered. People with local knowledge of their community will also be used to refer people who could benefit from the scheme. The first door knock took place in Tenbury on Monday (June 27).

Support will include signposting them to services and activities available in their area or working with volunteers, community groups and parish councils to provide activities that can bring people together and help them connect with people in their area.

Activities provided could range from lunch clubs and sporting events to training to help people to make the most of the Internet and digital technology.

Social isolation can have a serious impact on health with research suggesting it is as damaging as smoking 15 cigarettes a day. Older people are most at risk of social isolation with between a quarter and a third of people aged 65 and over in South Worcestershire believed to be socially isolated.

The scheme is being funded by Malvern Hills District Council and West Mercia Police and Crime Commissioner for two years after which it will be reviewed with the potential to expand it to other areas. It has already been running successfully in neighbouring Wychavon for eighteen months and has helped over 250 individuals.

Cllr David Watkins, Portfolio Holder for Healthier Communities on Malvern Hills District Council, said: “Building stronger and healthier communities is one of the key priorities in our new five year plan and ensuring people, of all ages, feel part of and connected to the place where they live is a key part of that.

“We can all play our part to help reduce the impact of loneliness by just thinking about our neighbours, particularly those who are older or living alone, and checking those around us are okay. Just dropping in for a cup of tea, offering the occasional lift or picking up a prescription can make a real difference.”

For more information on the Rural Communities Programme visit