Campaign hopes to ensure no one in Norfolk has to have a lonely day
- Credit: Norfolk County Council
Communities, businesses, organisations and residents are being urged to come together and make a pledge to show their support for In Good Company - a new campaign to help combat the increasing problem of loneliness which already affects thousands of people living in Norfolk today.
With more than 20 voluntary and statutory organisations and service providers across the county already signed up, In Good Company is asking people from all walks of life to make a pledge to do something – however small – to help ensure that no one spends a lonely day if they don't want to.
And in the run up to Christmas, often a particularly tough time for people who are lonely, the campaign is seeking to focus on promoting the wealth of events, activities and services in Norfolk that are actively working to combat loneliness among our older residents, give ideas to smaller groups and communities who are looking to set up initiatives locally, as well as linking people to volunteering opportunities.
Graham Creelman, Chairman of Norfolk's Older People's Strategic Partnership, said: 'Combating loneliness and isolation is one of the key objectives in our current strategy. This is as true for older people living in our towns and cities as it is in the countryside.
'We know that feeling lonely and isolated is a direct cause of poor health. And it can make people vulnerable to scams and fraud, and feel that they have nowhere to turn but our public services. But we also know that helping people feel less lonely can lead to a more independent, happier and healthier life.'
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As well as encouraging people to get involved, the campaign aims to launch an In Good Company 'kite mark' for the county – with a series of steps that communities, businesses and organisations can work towards to show how they are helping to drive out loneliness.
Bill Borrett, Chairman of Norfolk County Council's Adult Social Services Committee, added: 'Here in Norfolk, there are numerous organisations in the public and voluntary sector that are already working hard to connect with lonely people in their areas. In Good Company will help promote their work.
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'But tackling loneliness is in everyone's gift, and that's why it's a call to action to all of us to get involved. So initially if you're a business who can donate to an event or charity, we want you to pledge that support. If you're an individual who can invite an older neighbour for tea, or even just say hello to someone in the queue in your local shop, we want you to pledge too.
'No matter how big or small, all of these things can help contribute to In Good Company and our objective - that no one in Norfolk should spend a lonely day if they don't want to.'
Wendy Thomson, Managing Director of Norfolk County Council added: 'I'm delighted to support In Good Company. It's wrong that loneliness blights the lives of so many in our county. This campaign offers all of us a chance to do our bit to help people to enjoy happier, healthier lives.'
To make a personal pledge, find out more about events, activities and services that are designed to help combat loneliness in your area, find volunteering opportunities – or to promote all of these things, please visit www.norfolk.gov.uk/ingoodcompany or call 0344 800 8020.
People can also share their pledges and their support for In Good Company on twitter – @NorfolkCC using #NoLonelyDay
Celebrities supporting In Good Company
Throwing her weight behind the campaign, Norfolk Great British Bake Off contestant Kate Barmby baked a cake for residents at Harriet Court care home.
She said: 'Loneliness is the feeling that no one cares and not having anyone to communicate meaningfully with. Taking a bit of time out of our day to engage with someone isn't an act of martyrdom, it's an act of kindness that can be mutually rewarding.
'Doing something that will give someone else enjoyment and relief from isolation could in turn make you feel happier. Loneliness can be relieved by the simplest act of kindness, maybe just taking the time to smile and acknowledge someone when you're on the bus or being patient when the elderly person in front of you wants to take their time and chat to the shop assistant because it's the only significant interaction they've had all day.
'You could share what you enjoy doing, for instance if like me you get pleasure from baking you could make a cake for a neighbour or hold a community coffee morning but for my part the most valuable thing you could possibly offer a lonely person is your time. Don't just take a cake round take the time to share it over a cup of tea and a chat with the recipient.'
To view Kate's recipe visit our website.
Paralympic swimmer Jessica-Jane Applegate also got behind the bid. She added: 'As an athlete people assume I lead a busy social life but I am like anyone else and I sometimes feel lonely I'm just really fortunate to have a great support network and two beautiful rescue dogs.
'I am supporting this campaign because I believe no one should feel lonely and the winter is always the toughest time of year. If you have just five minutes free make that phone call, pop to your neighbours or visit the person at the end of the road with no family, it will make their day and everyone single one of us can make a difference.'
Kate's now not-so-secret recipe for a rich fruit cake
• 575g Raisins
• 225g Sultanas
• 225g Currants
• 110g Glace cherries, rinsed and chopped
• 110g Mixed chopped candied peel
• Finely grated zest and juice of a large orange
• 4 tbsp Brandy
• 275g Unsalted butter at room temperature
• 150g Light soft brown sugar
• 125g Dark soft brown sugar
• 5 Large eggs lightly beaten
• 150g Plain flour
• 125g Self raising flour
• A good grating of nutmeg
• 1 tsp Mixed spice
• ½ tsp Cinnamon
• ½ tsp salt
• 1 tbsp Treacle
• 110g Almonds chopped
• 4 tbsp Brandy or Cointreau
• 3 – 4 tbsp of apricot jam or marmalade warmed and sieved to remove bits
• 1kg Marzipan
• Either Royal icing or sugarpaste
1. Put all the dried fruit, chopped glace cherries, mixed peel, finely grated orange zest, orange juice and brandy in a
large bowl, stir well and cover in cling film. Leave for at least a day to soak.
2. Once the fruit has soaked line a 23cm deep round cake tin with four layers of baking parchment. Pre-heat the oven
to 140 degrees Celsius (fan).
3. In a large bowl beat the soft butter until it is the consistency of mayonnaise, then add the light and dark brown sugar
and cream until light and fluffy. Put the flours, spices and salt in a separate bowl and use a dry whisk to mix and
aerate. Gradually beat the eggs in to the creamed butter and sugar a little at a time. Add 2 – 3 heaped tbsp of the
flour with the final third of the beaten eggs to prevent the mixture curdling.
4. Once you have incorporated all the beaten eggs fold in the remaining flour and spices and then fold in the soaked
dried fruit mix, treacle and chopped almonds. Spoon the mixture into the prepared tin and level the surface. Put 4
layers of baking parchment with a 3cm circle cut out of the centre on the surface of the cake. Tie a band of brown
paper around the outside of the tin.
5. Bake in the middle of the oven for 4 hours. Important - this is the time it takes in my oven with an anodised tin;
different ovens and different tins will take different times. The cake is cooked when it is nicely browned, springs
bake when you press it gently and a skewer comes out clean when inserted into the centre.
6. Allow the cake to cool in the tin for about 15 minutes, then insert a skewer all over the cake and gently pour over 4
tbsp of brandy or Cointreau. Leave in the tin until completely cool.
7. You can wrap the cake in greaseproof paper at this stage and store in a tin 'feeding' it occasionally with a tbsp of
brandy or Cointreau but I prefer to make my fruit cakes when I want them rather than storing them.
8. To finish level the surface of the cake using a long serrated knife, then brush the top and the sides with the warmed
apricot jam or marmalade and cover with a layer of marzipan. Ideally once marzipanned leave overnight to dry
before covering either in royal icing or sugarpaste.
Organisations currently supporting the In Good Company campaign include:
Age UK Norfolk
Age UK Norwich
Carers Council for Norfolk
Community Action Norfolk
Contact the Elderly
Great Yarmouth Council
Norfolk Carers Association
Norfolk County Council (including Public Health, Adult Social Services, Library and Information Service, Registrars, Norfolk Fire and Rescue, Trading Standards, Community Transport and Driver Development) Norfolk Members of the Youth Parliament
Norfolk Museums Service
Norfolk Older People's Strategic Partnership
Norfolk Safeguarding Adults Board
Norwich City Council
PAT – Pets as Therapy
South Norfolk Council
St Martin's Housing
Thetford Community Association
West Norfolk & District MIND
Norfolk Safeguarding Adults Board
Norfolk Older People's Strategic Partnership