Club revamps van to take a cuppa and a chat on the road and ease loneliness
- Credit: Sarah Lucy Brown
More than ever, a warm cup of tea and a friendly chat can be a gesture that is very much welcomed.
So, it is no surprise that a Norfolk charity has rallied to launch a mobile service to help combat loneliness in the county.
The Cuppa Care Project, which is being supported by Rotary in Norwich, as well as a handful of other organisations, has been launched to address issues surrounding isolation.
In order to get support out in the community, a van has been converted into a purpose-built mobile facility equipped with a range of information and facilities.
Trained staff and volunteers will be on hand to provide refreshments while engaging with local communities, providing appropriate support, information, advice and, above all, companionship over a friendly cuppa.
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It is all aimed at reducing loneliness and isolation, by facilitating conversations and enabling engagement with the community.
The project pilot was launched on June 28 and has so far visited locations across the county including Norwich, Great Yarmouth, Holt, Cromer, Strumpshaw, and Rackheath.
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Breckland Council has also funded locations including Dereham, Swaffham, Thetford, East Harling, Watton and Attleborough, with more locations, funded by the NHS, to be added from next month for north and west Norfolk.
Aliona Derrett, Rotary Club of Norwich president and project lead, explained why it was more important than ever to launch the venture.
She said: “Latest research has shown that between 5pc and 13pc of adults across the county will often, or always, be feeling lonely.
“Loneliness can have serious consequences for individuals' physical, psychological and social impacts, and can have serious consequences for isolated individuals in terms of increased morbidity, lower life satisfaction and a predisposition towards low mental and physical health.
“It is associated with poorer physical and mental health and lower wellbeing amongst older people – for example, depression – and older people with a high degree of loneliness are twice as likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease as those with a low degree of loneliness.
"We need £51,000 to purchase and convert the vehicle, of which we have raised £16,000 so far.
"At the moment we are using a borrowed vehicle from Hear for Norfolk and since starting at the end of June to date it cost us just under £1,000 to run the service in the few locations we began with.
"We have also raised just over £28,000 to be able to run the project on a part-time basis in the first year.
"So, the reality is that we still need to raise the remainder £35,000 of capital funds to be able to purchase and convert the vehicle, and another £25,000 in revenue funds to take the new vehicle when we have it, to put on the road five days per week.
"We are working hard at raising these funds."
The project has been initiated and led by the Rotary Club of Norwich and delivered by a partnership of local organisations including Hear for Norfolk, Citizens Advice Norfolk, Deaf Connexions, Age UK Norwich, Age UK Norfolk, Wellbeing, Norfolk and Waveney Mind, Norfolk LGBT+ Project and Vision Norfolk.
Ms Derrett, who is also the chief executive of lead partner Hear for Norfolk, added: “Deprivation, whether in urban or rural areas, is another risk factor for loneliness those living in deprived areas are more often lonely compared to people living in non-deprived areas.”
The aim of the project is also to reduce stigma around social isolation, loneliness and its impact on people’s mental health and wellbeing, as well as to connect local services and generate shared ownership of providing outreach support to help tackle loneliness and isolation.
On January 22, 2022, the Rotary Club of Norwich will be celebrating the centenary of its founding. To commemorate this achievement the club has made many plans including to initiate, develop and implement a long lasting, replicable and accessible project that focuses upon “preventing and reducing social isolation and loneliness in Norfolk” - the Cuppa Care Project is an example of that.
For more information email email@example.com or visit @cuppacarenorfolk on Facebook. Alternatively, contact Ms Derrett on 07821 340717 or via email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
To donate funds visit the website https://cafdonate.cafonline.org
For more information about the Rotary Club of Norwich, or for details about joining, visit the website www.rotaryclubnorwich.co.uk