A better Medway
Published: Monday, 17th June 2019

Medway Council is launching a campaign to combat loneliness and social isolation in Medway.

Loneliness can affect anyone of any age and there are many reasons why people could feel lonely including moving to a new area, family or friends not living close by or life changes such as retiring or having a baby.

Loneliness and social isolation are harmful to our health and it’s estimated that around 12,000 people in Medway feel lonely. To combat this Medway Council is launching the A Better Medway – Together campaign this Loneliness Awareness Week.  

The campaign aims to reduce loneliness by supporting people to make more connections in their local community. This will include raising awareness of activities, services and events in Medway that support people to make connections with each other.

From Monday, 17 June, you can make the Medway Together pledge to connect with your community and help tackle loneliness in Medway. Pledges can be big or small and made by individuals, groups or businesses. You could pledge to say hello to your neighbour, host a coffee morning, or volunteer at a community event.

Medway Council arranges activities throughout the year to give residents opportunities to meet new people. 

Medway Sport also offers a range of senior sport sessions which have been tailored to help older residents keep fit and socialise, including badminton, walking football, short mat bowls, chairfit and boccia. Medway Council also offers free swimming for residents aged 60 and above. For more information visit www.medway.gov.uk/seniorsport. There are also number of different clubs in Medway for all ages, interests and disabilities visit www.medway.gov.uk/sport. To find out more about free health walks and cycling groups across Medway, visit https://www.medway.gov.uk/abettermedway

Medway Adult Education runs a community engagement programme called Create Medway which aims to encourage family learning and provide opportunities for social interaction. Classes include family wellbeing and yoga and weekly painting sessions at the Sunlight Centre in Gillingham. For more information visit www.medway.gov.uk/mae

Men in Sheds is just one of the many projects available in Medway where people can make new connections. Men in Sheds supports local men stay well by getting together to share their interests and skills, including sessions such as woodcraft, music sessions and art. Men in Sheds focuses mainly, but not exclusively, on men over 25 who are not in work and retirees. For more information call 01634 338600.

Medway Men in Sheds organises four sessions each week which focus on different interests and skills. 

Gardening has many benefits, which Steve Claringbold Chief Executive of the Sunlight Centre is proud of. He said: “I’ve seen new friendships made by people who wouldn’t have met and our members also meet outside the group too. They find gardening really rewarding and it gives them responsibility in a really relaxing environment.”

There are lots of opportunities to connect with others in Medway

Cllr David Brake, Medway Council’s Portfolio Holder for Adults’ Services, said: “Loneliness and social isolation are not just issues which affect older residents. Anyone, of any age, can become lonely. There are lots of opportunities to connect with others in Medway and we are working with partners to help our residents make more connections in their local area. Together we will tackle loneliness and make A Better Medway.”

A simple hello can help combat loneliness

Tackling loneliness doesn’t have to mean making a big gesture. Sometimes a simple hello can make a big difference. We know it can be hard to start a conversation with someone new, so here are our top tips:

  • Ask someone’s opinion, for example, ask what they think of the weather.
  • In a queue? Say hello to someone.
  • Ask open questions and avoid questions that only have a yes or no answers, for example ask what someone’s plans are for the weekend.

For more information on our Together in Medway activities, and to get involved by making a pledge, visit www.medway.gov.uk/community

Follow #MedwayTogether on social media to find out more about ways to connect with your community.

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