Councillor calls for Doncaster to be the 'least lonely place’ by 2021 as new 'alliance' is formed

Doncaster should strive to be the 'least lonely place’ by 2021, a councillor has said.

Tuesday, 4th June 2019, 7:11 pm
Updated Wednesday, 5th June 2019, 11:50 am
Doncaster is aiming to be the 'lonely place' by 2021. Thorne Old Peoples Welfare Centre is one centre that host lunch clubs bringing people together .Picture:Simon Hulme/Doncaster Free Press

The local authority approved plans along with partners to bring together groups under a so-called ‘alliance’ to tackle the scourge of loneliness in communities across the borough. 

Members on the council’s cabinet approved scheme which will result in £200,000 being invested over three to help tackle the problem. 

Coun Rachel Blake, cabinet for adult social care  said 17 organisations and group had responded in working more closely together to make sure they were operating on the same page. 

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She said research showed loneliness was as bad as ‘smoking 15 cigarettes a day’ and reduced premature death by nearly a third. 

Coun Blake also said it was also important to mention that loneliness is not just a problem in older people and that it can happen at any age. 

“I’m setting the challenging ambition for Doncaster to become the least lonely place by 2021," she said. 

“This is a big ambition I admit but I know the difference it can make to people’s lives when they are no longer lonely – everyone benefits. 

“This will deliver through colaboration, intervention that connect people together at every level to reduce isolation. 

“In Doncaster we have many groups that do a fantastic job at the moment to tackle this – some are small and work within a small geographical area and rely on volunteers while others are bigger groups.

“The group already are looking at innovative ways to identify people that are isolated and they have carried out initial mapping to find opportunities, gaps in provision and where duplication maybe occuruing. 

Documents seen by councillors show the council will work closely with the alliance with an ambition for them to become a standalone body. Doncaster Culture & Leisure Trust has been chosen be the lead partner. 

The group are also set to work with Sheffield University and their ‘Centre for Loneliness’ study and look to develop a ‘local loneliness charter’.

Bessacarr councillor Nick Allen (Cons) who spoke at the meeting, praised the push to tackle loneliness but raised concerns about plans to develop a ‘stand alone entity’ in just three years along with the £200,000 pot.

Mayor Ros Jones said partners working in a ‘collaborative not competitive environment’ would make a huge difference and officers were working in the early stages to set up robust governance. 

Rounding off, the mayor added: “Let’s not hide, austerity has caused some of this isolation with what’s been brought in by Government but we will deliver for our residents with the resources we can get.

“When you read what’s there and what can kill, it’s quite frightening with social isolation.”