Project aims to tackle loneliness

We’ve started a new project to ensure residents living alone are getting the support they need.

Housing officers identified that there were many people in Ernesettle who may be at risk of becoming isolated.

We’ve since begun visiting some of these residents to find out if there’s any extra help or support we can offer them.

Housing Officer Dave Walley explains: “As part of our neighbourhood plan work last year, we identified an issue with people becoming isolated within Ernesettle and to some extent across the city.

“One of our plan objectives this year has been to tackle isolation. It will be in this year’s plan too.

We asked our Performance team to run a report on the number of over 55s living alone. We chose to start with this age group as they are often the most vulnerable and likely to end up isolated.

“We’ve been knocking on doors and speaking to them. We’ve been asking if they want to be helped to find out about groups or events in the area. People we’ve spoken to have been really receptive.”

Dave says the exercise has so far proved successful – he and his colleagues Nic Stockman and Caroline Stanbury have linked tenants up with the Elder Tree Befriending Service, South West Water and adaptation firm, Millbrook.

Dave added: “In houses and half house flats, it’s more of a problem than blocks of flats because people don’t pass by so much. A tenant may only be sharing a path with one person.

“It wasn’t just about isolation but identifying other issues. For example, one tenant didn’t know we could help with adaptations and we’ve been able to assist her with that.”

That tenant, Sue, now has a bathroom handrail fitted following a referral visit from Millbrook.

Sue, who has lived in Ernesettle for around four years, said: “I really appreciated the visit. It was useful. Dave also told me about some local groups.”

The team has done around 25 visits so far and want to do the remainder by the end of the year.

In time, they will look to visit all tenants in Ernesettle who live on their own, some of whom may be more vulnerable because they are living alone for the first time.