This is how Doncaster services and businesses are helping to defeat winter isolation and loneliness

Winter can be a hard, long season for those suffering from isolation and loneliness but there are many services in Doncaster combating the problem.

Tuesday, 11th January 2022, 4:34 pm

Doncaster Mind, a mental health charity, has an array of services that are designed to help people who are suffering.

Pauline Thompson, a spokesperson for Doncaster Mind, said: “Winter is a busy time for us.

“The darker months are not good for people suffering with things such as depression.

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Participants pictured during the weekly Walk and Talk session around the Lakeside, organised by Club Doncaster Foundation.

“It can be harder for people to leave isolation and to break out of those habits.

“We want to let people know that it is ok to feel like that.

“One in four people suffer from mental health issues.

“I promise that the first step is the hardest - once you reach out it becomes much easier.”

L-r Sally Hickson-Clark, Adult Services Manager, Jon Gooch, Digital Communications Offier, Chrissy Elmore, Pathways Worker, Raquel Anne, Digital Support Worker/Group Support Worker and David Binns, Finance and Admin Team Leader, pictured outside Sober Social.

Doncaster Mind has a self referral programme which can be done over the phone or on their website.

Pauline said: “We have a befriending service, a mentoring programme, art therapy, a gardening group, guided learning courses and many other activities to help those who need it.”

Doncaster Mind are also looking for volunteers who can help others suffering with loneliness.

To access their services click on their website here.

Participants pictured during the weekly Walk and Talk session around the Lakeside, organised by Club Doncaster Foundation.

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Laura Local, is the owner of The Local, a bar in Branton.

She has decided to take part in the Chatty Cafe scheme which means that once a week there will be a table in the bar specifically set up for people who want to chat.

Laura, aged 46, from Branton, said: “I think that our bar is a very welcoming environment and I wanted to do something to help the local community.

The Local, Branton.

“I have wanted to do something for a long time but the Chatty Cafe scheme gave me the push to set this up.

“We want to reach out to people who might be isolated or lonely and invite them to come and meet new friends and have a chat.

“I know it can be hard to take the first step but we are a really friendly place.”

The scheme is open to anyone of any age but Laura is encouraging elderly members of the community to come along.

“Why not get out of the house and come and see a friendly face?” she said.

“With the pandemic it has been really easy to become insular but it’s so important to get out and about.”

Volunteer Neil Maughan, pictured holding a Smart Recovery session.

The feedback for the scheme has been positive from the local community in Branton who are on board with making the village a friendlier place to live.

The scheme will start on January 12, 2022 and will continue every Wednesday after.

The table will be open from 12pm to 4pm.

The bar is looking for volunteers to sit at the table and chat to people - if you would like to get involved you can reach them via social media.

The Club Doncaster Foundation have a programme called Rovers Connection which aims to tackle loneliness.

During the first year and a half of the pandemic they helped over 1200 people with phone calls, food packages and support.

Scott Beresford runs the project, he said: “We now run three walking and talking groups across Doncaster.

“They help to transition people from isolation into the ‘new normal’ of today’s world.

“We have people in the group who have lost loved ones and had serious medical procedures who say that without the walking group they would really struggle.

“They look forward to it every week and it gives them a sense of achievement for completing the walk.”

The groups average around 25 people and there is no age limit.

“We’re really happy with the progress of the groups,” Scott said.

“We see people’s social skills improve as well as their physical fitness.

“The members become friends and even meet each other outside of the group walks.

“They share stories and the impact of mixing with others is huge for people who have been isolated.”There are three groups across Doncaster which are free to attend.

On Tuesdays they meet at the Eco-Power Stadium at 12pm for a 40 minute walk around the lakeside.

This is followed by drinks and bingo at the Social Cafe in the stadium (£3 for a drink and two games of bingo).

On Wednesdays there is a walk and talk at Askern Lake at 10am which is also 40 minutes long.

They meet at the Askern Library for free drinks and games afterwards.

On Thursdays they meet at Hexthorpe Park at 10am then head to Dell Cafe for drinks.

Charity Project Six works with people in Doncaster who suffer from substance misuse.

They have noticed an increase in the number of people using their services during the pandemic as more and more people became isolated.

Sally Hickson-Clark, adult service manager, said: “Isolation leads to relapse and mental health issues.

“It’s so different when you have to go through it alone so why not give us a call.

“You don’t have to make the first step alone, someone will walk through the door with you or you can have phone sessions until you become comfortable.

“It’s an extremely friendly service - our volunteers have experience in many of the issues that members are facing and we will help you to overcome yours.

“You will be shocked by the transformation people can make here.”

The Project Six base in the town centre contains a cafe where members are encouraged to meet one another and also partake in activities.

“Thankfully through lockdown we were able to keep our doors open,” Sally continued.

“We did a lot digitally after teaching people how to use computers and IPad’s because if people didn’t have those skills in a lockdown they were cut off from the world.

“Those that really needed our service were still able to come in person.

“We had members tell us they wouldn’t be here without Project Six.”

If you’re interested in joining you can find more information here.

In these confusing and worrying times, local journalism is more vital than ever. Thanks to everyone who helps us ask the questions that matter by taking out a subscription or buying a paper. We stand together. Liam Hoden, editor.

Participants pictured during the weekly Walk and Talk session around the Lakeside, organised by Club Doncaster Foundation.