Final Report: More Than A Mealtime - Cross Gates and District GNS
Now that we are into our third year of Time to Shine, some of our projects from the first round of commissioning have drawn to a close. Their legacy will live on in everything we learned about what is effective about addressing social isolation, and has already informed how we commission our next projects.
More Than A Mealtime - Time Together used eating together as a way of making enjoyable connections for isolated older people to reduce isolation and improve well-being. It wrapped up in June 2017 but part of the project will be extended and shared around the city.
The project contained two strands:
1. Consideration of people confined to the home
2. Focus on times outside of office hours
In the first strand the project recruited and trained young people 18+ and studying in Leeds to act as volunteer befrienders to housebound older people, with some kind of shared meal acting as the focus for the visits.
This was to harness the potential for intergenerational engagement that is mutually beneficial around food – skill sharing, knowledge and budgeting, as well as an available volunteer force that had not been made use of to date despite excellent transport links between central Leeds, Headingley and Crossgates.
For the second strand the project wanted to make it easier for single older people to eat out in company in their local area by reserving shared tables at a variety of local venues and providing a sociable volunteer to facilitate the gathering.
This supported the shy, recently bereaved or others lacking confidence due to health issues, in taking steps towards a more active social life which is known to be good for well-being.
The project planned to offer these opportunities at the weekend and evening as that is when ‘mainstream socialising’ takes place and single people can feel especially isolated by contrast as other options are reduced at these times.