Staying connected in lockdown


Christine McMahon is Brightlife’s Social Prescribing Manager. She explains,
“Brightlife has been working to reduce social isolation and loneliness in Cheshire West and Chester since 2015.

This meant that when COVID-19 crisis happened, we already had a comprehensive database of people who were most in need of support and (working closely with our lead partner, Age UK Cheshire) we could swiftly offer support in terms of accessing shopping, medication and telephone befriending.

As well as providing practical help, we knew that keeping people socially connected would be more important than ever. Working with Cheshire West Voluntary Action, many service providers have moved their activities online – from seated exercise on Facebook, to Zoom coffee mornings, book clubs and digital support.

It was also important for us to try and reframe some of the language being used by the national media; ‘social distancing’ is in fact ‘physical distancing’ and as lockdown became a daily reality, many of our participants noticed that they were still very much socially connected, thanks to the friends they’d made through attending Brightlife activities over the past few years.
I really am so proud of the Social Prescribing team at Brightlife who have worked tirelessly to check in on people, chat, listen and care (no matter what was going on in their own locked-down lives).

I think for us, what has been most impressive is the kindness we’ve witnessed these past couple of months. Communities have really stepped forward and taken responsibility for their neighbours by setting up WhatsApp Groups, posting cards through doors, offering help with shopping as well as dropping off books, jigsaws and messages of support to people they knew lived alone.

Whilst Covid-19 may have moved the goalposts on our work to reduce loneliness in Cheshire West… and has set us back in many ways, it has also provided communities with a new perspective now that people truly understand the painful ache of loneliness. This has been a tragic and bitter lesson but has also generated so much kindness. I hope we take some of this wonderful compassion and understanding forward into life after lockdown and remember that no one should ever be lonely.”

If you would like to find out more about how you could become more connected, please get in touch with Brightlife on 01606 884444.
Notes to Editors: Brightlife is part of Ageing Better, a national programme set up by the National Lottery Community Fund.

Brightlife is an Ageing Better programme set up by The National Lottery Community Fund, the largest funder of community activity in the UK. Ageing Better aims to develop creative ways for people aged over 50 to be actively involved in their local communities, helping to combat social isolation and loneliness. It is one of five major programmes set up by The National Lottery Community Fund to test and learn from new approaches to designing services which aim to make people’s lives healthier and happier.