This year, Mental Health Awareness Week falls on 9th - 15th May, focusing on loneliness.
Mental Health Awareness Week is an annual event run by the Mental Health Foundation which gives the UK an opportunity to focus on improving their mental health. This year's theme focuses on Loneliness:
Loneliness is affecting more and more of us in the UK and has had a huge impact on our physical and mental health during the pandemic. Our connection to other people and our community is fundamental to protecting our mental health and we need to find better ways of tackling the epidemic of loneliness. We can all play a part in this.
So, this Mental Health Awareness Week, we are raising awareness of the impact of loneliness on our mental wellbeing and the practical steps we can take to address it.
Mental Health Foundation
From Wellbeing Walks to reducing loneliness through learning digital skills, we're proud to help people from across Bedfordshire to improve their mental health here at BRCC. Read more about how some of our services help people below:
Our team of Community Wellbeing Champions (CWC) help people to connect with their local community, improve their physical activity and wellbeing, and empower them to make decisions to support their health.
Shani is one of our CWC's and she works with clients specifically with wellbeing challenges. She said:
“Working as a social prescriber is so rewarding and fulfilling. I genuinely feel I am able to support improvements in all aspects of people’s lives. It is amazing to see people progress and grow into happier and heathier people. With a gentle hand hold through referrals and encouragement people are able to change what they want to change and achieve their goals.”
You Can Do IT! Digital Inclusion Project
In February 2022 we launched our Digital Inclusion programme called You Can Do IT!
Groups will be running in various community buildings across Central Bedfordshire and Bedford Borough, with new groups starting gradually over the next two years. The aim of the programme is to improve people’s lives by getting them online and accessing services and systems that will improve their health and wellbeing, reduce loneliness, and reduce the burden on our local NHS resources.
Participants will be shown how to safely book GP appointments online, order prescriptions, join an online activity group, shop, bank, and make video calls to friends and family.
Good Neighbour Schemes
BRCC supports a network of over 40 Good Neighbour schemes in both Bedford Borough and in Central Bedfordshire. The schemes are set up and run by local residents who offer help and support to fellow residents of their town or village.
Volunteers can help out with the occasional things that can make all the difference, such as lifts to the shops or doctors, collecting shopping, or even popping round for a chat over a cup of tea.
Our Network of Good Neighbour groups across Bedfordshire help the mental health of their towns and villages by reducing isolation and enabling older and more vulnerable people to stay living independently at home for longer. Friendly contact from neighbours boosts morale when living alone especially when your own family lives too far away to help out day to day. Good Neighbour volunteers enjoy helping others, contributing to their local community and making new friends – which also adds to their own sense of wellbeing.
Team Leader - Care and Support Services
BRCC co-ordinates a range of Wellbeing Walks which are led by trained volunteers. Our wellbeing walks give people an opportunity to meet new people, get out in nature, and get some exercise.
In addition to the obvious physical benefits of the county’s Wellbeing Walks (formerly known as ‘Health Walks’), walking is now acknowledged to be just as important for your mental health. Our BedsRCC Wellbeing Walks - though open to all - are accessed particularly by older people, a good number of whom live alone or have limited opportunities for socialising.
The regular group walks are seen by many as an occasion to get out of the house, mingle with old and new friends and catch up with the latest news. All of this helps to reduce the all too common symptoms of loneliness, stress, and anxiety and serves to improve their confidence and general outlook on life, and in many cases to limit their need for medication and talking therapy.
Environment and Community Officer
Village and Community Agents
Village and Community Agents connect with older people living in towns and villages in Bedfordshire to help them with free support and assistance. They can help with jobs such as:
- Feeling safer at home
- Becoming healthier
- Pensions and benefits
- Support for carers
- Transport options
- Joining a local group
- Local volunteering opportunities
- Housing issues
I felt like a weight had been lifted from my shoulders. Someone listened. Someone cared enough to help.
Village Agent Client