Hackney Council funds Targeted Preventative Services (TPS), a scheme to support vulnerable adults in Hackney to prevent or delay the need for intensive health or social care support. TPS is made up of two elements: a volunteering and befriending service plus floating support to help residents with specific housing-related needs.
The Community Library Service in Hackney provides free book delivery and facilitates a telephone reading group for people who are at risk of social isolation – including carers, people with mobility problems and residents of sheltered housing, nursing homes and homeless hostels. Reading groups are also available in Hackney libraries for a range of different groups, young and old, including specific groups for people whose first language is not English and those who are unemployed.
Various services in Hackney Council aim to alleviate social isolation during pregnancy and early years, for example the Family Nurse Partnership (FNP). This is a preventative programme that aims to reduce health inequalities by working with first-time parents under the age of 20. A number of Children’s Centres also run support groups for parents who may not access universal services, including young mums groups and culturally specific groups (e.g. Turkish, Orthodox Jewish and Muslim parent groups).
In addition, Hackney Council for Voluntary Services (HCVS) manages Connect Hackney, a project led by older people, for older people. Connect Hackney ensures that older people in the borough, who are at increased risk of experiencing social isolation, get the opportunity to make connections and socialise with other residents. The scheme has won a five-year funding package of £5.8m from the Big Lottery Fund’s Ageing Better programme, which aims to prevent and reduce social isolation among older people. The project offers participants a chance to meet new people, socialise, and try out various wellbeing activities – including meditation and massage, hen-keeping and digital media training.B
A wide range of activities are available in the City of London that provide opportunities for social interaction and guard against social isolation and loneliness. These include activities with a wide ranging appeal (such as the reading, interest and skills based groups available through the City’s libraries) as well as activities targeted at specific demographic groups or geographical areas. For example, the City offers a befriending service, delivered by Age UK East London, which links volunteers with City residents dealing with social isolation, either as a result of older age, dementia or low-level mental health issues.
There is also provision for parents of young children in the City, such as Outdoor Explorers (a six-week course designed to build confidence when taking children outside and on public transport) and Nanny Stay and Play (which aims to provide nannies with a support network and tackle loneliness). Outreach and Early Help services also link parents into appropriate services and support.
An even greater variety of activities are available to those able to travel outside of the City’s boundaries and a Small Grant Scheme is available to residents who want to set up a new social group.