Loneliness and social isolation has soared in Farnham since the pandemic, according to a social prescribing team launched at Farnham Hospital earlier this year.
Since the Farnham Primary Care Network (PCN) launched its Proactive Anticipatory Care Team in May, the service has received 112 referrals from GPs and other NHS health workers. Of these, at least 30 per cent are to address loneliness, isolation or befriending requirements.
According to the team, these patients have little or no contact with anyone.
During the pandemic, Farnham’s displayed a remarkable sense of community and willingness to support the vulnerable, which helped to expand local befriending services.
But sadly, the number of volunteers has reduced and there is pressure on services because of limited capacity.
Farnham PCN care co-ordinator Monica Wilczkowiak said: “We have a lot of not just elderly, but people within the Farnham area that are extremely lonely. Even though there are coffee mornings and activities out there, they can’t get there or their mobility has deteriorated.”
The PCN is asking if anyone can offer their time during the week to provide contact and companionship to those in need. Even one to two hours of your time could change someone’s life for the better and would be a rewarding experience for both parties.
There are various roles available, from helping someone get to an important medical appointment or even talking to a person or going out for a drink with them.
Monica added: “The carers that come in three times or four times a day are the only people that they get to see.
“Because they are lonely and are wanting a phone call, they start feeling ill and phone the GPs or 111 in the night.”
Some of the services you can join are:
- Farnham ASSIST, which runs regular events to tackle social isolation: Call Angela Weston at 01252 717710 or email [email protected]
- Care Farnham, community driving service: Call 01252 716655
- Age UK, providing friendship and support for older people: Register for this service at www.ageuk.org.uk or [email protected]
- Re-engage, which runs volunteer-led activities to tackle social isolation: Email [email protected]
- Right at home, care agency which runs regular community events: Contact section at www.rightathome.co.uk
By Michelle Monaghan