Greenwich Council

Agenda item.

Motion - "Greenwich Against Loneliness"

Decision:

Resolved –

Council notes that loneliness is a significant public health issue, with research finding social isolation to be as harmful to health as smoking 15 cigarettes a day and causing significant costs to the health service and society as a whole.

 

Council endorses the recommendations of the Jo Cox Commission on Loneliness as accepted by the Government in January, with a new dedicated Minister for Loneliness and a new cross-government strategy launching later this year.

 

Council applauds the work of the Social Isolation Strategy Group in understanding how our communities are affected by loneliness, and their continued work to identify people who may be particularly at risk in their areas, and to set out plans for local action to address these challenges.”

 

Council notes that locally:

More than 2,800 older people in Greenwich are estimated to feel lonely ‘all or most of the time’, according to the Campaign to End Loneliness

Only 41.6% of adult social care users, and only 20.0% of carers, in Greenwich feel they have as much social contact as they would like, according to 2016/17 figures

27 local neighbourhoods in the borough have a “very high risk” of loneliness in later life according to Age UK heat mapping data, with some ranked within the top 1% of 32,844 neighbourhoods in England for loneliness risk.

 

Council notes that while loneliness can affect people anywhere and regardless of age or personal circumstances, particularly “very high risk” hotspots have been identified by Age UK in areas within the following wards: Coldharbour & New Eltham, Eltham South, Middle Park and Sutcliffe, Eltham West, Kidbrooke with Hornfair, Greenwich West, Peninsula, Charlton, Common, Woolwich Riverside, Thamesmead Moorings, Plumstead and Abbey Wood.

 

Council notes the important work already underway to tackle loneliness:

 

In our local voluntary sector, including by Age UK Bromley and Greenwich, Contact the Elderly, Greenwich Carers Centre, Goodgym, Listening Ears, Greenwich Pensioners Forum, Dementia Carers Group, Greenwich Citizens and local community and faith groups across the borough.

 

Through the co-ordinating role of the Social Isolation Strategy Group, set up by RBG in 2015 and chaired by GAVS, and in particular the success of the Forever Young Festival at The Stables, returning for a second year this September.

 

Through the inclusion of social isolation in the Greenwich Health and Wellbeing Strategy and the forthcoming Voluntary Sector Commissioning round.

 

Council believes, however, that more could be done to raise awareness of the problem of loneliness particularly amongst other demographic groupsacross the borough, and to mobilise the support of local residents in tackling it.

 

Council therefore resolves to launch a new campaign – ‘Greenwich Against Loneliness’ – to:

Raise public awareness of the issue of loneliness in the Royal Borough of Greenwich Mobilise local residents to support the campaign, by reaching out to their neighbours, and volunteering their time for local projects including Age UK Bromley and Greenwich’s Befriending Scheme

Bid for the “Building Connections” pot that has been made available to expand the offer already available to other groups.

 

Ensure that opportunities to tackle loneliness are not missed in any area of the council’s work, including through Ward Budget-funded projects in hotspot areas

 

Council requests that plans for the ‘Greenwich Against Loneliness’ campaign are brought before Cabinet by November 2018, following consultation with the local voluntary sector and public and private sector partners through the Social Isolation Strategy Group.

 

Minutes:

Councillor Matt Hartley, Leader of the Conservative Group, moved the motion calling for a new drive to tackle loneliness in the Borough stating that whilst canvassing for the recent local elections he was struck at the increase in the number of people he encountered who were evidently lonely or stated they felt lonely and that not everyone had family or could move closer to friends and family.  He noted that that loneliness was a significant public health risk and a survey in 2016/17 showed 42% of adult social care users and 26% of carers felt that they did not have as much social contact as they would like and a heat mapping exercise, by Age UK, showed 27 Greenwich Borough neighbourhoods had a very high risk of loneliness with some ranked within the top 1%. 

 

Councillor Hartley detailed the motion.

 

In seconding the Motion Councillor PatriciaGreenwell read an extract from a letter that had been sent to her by a former care leaver.  Loneliness could be debilitating causing many people health problems and depression and could affect anyone in any walk of life and people could live in a busy thriving area and feel like the loneliest person in the world and many people who faced loneliness, for whatever reason, had no family support and felt too proud or nervous to seek help and do not have family support.  They were the people all Councillors needed to reach out to, give a helping hand to and point in the right direction.  She thanked all the dedicated staff who work in the Councils children's homes.

 

Councillor AverilLekau moved an amended motion stating that the Council took the issue seriously, as reflected in the priorities of the Health and Wellbeing Strategy.   She felt that getting the right approach was crucial and needed to be carefully designed and considerate in understanding the local need on an evidence basis and applauded the work, already being undertaken by public health officers, partners and voluntary sector in developing active signposting, social prescribing and self-care which had provided a framework for individuals in accessing services and build social networks.   Efforts were being made to increase access to services and resources, improve navigation and services provided to supporting individuals.  She gave her assurance, as the Cabinet lead on Public Health that further work, on this areas, would be undertaken with the Councils partners. 

 

Councillor Denise Hyland seconded the amendment noting that the Social Isolation Strategy Group had been meeting for some time to co-ordinate activities across the borough including the annual Forever Young Festival.   She felt that Forever Young or Building Connections may be a better title than Greenwich Against Loneliness, as people often did not want  to be thought of in the community as lonely and whilst this tended to focus on older people, who were at a higher risk of social isolation and loneliness, a wider approach was needed to address the needs and experiences across the population and different age groups, including schools pupils and those who were not in contact with the usual initiatives and build on initiatives such as friends of parks, environmental champions and adult learning. 

 

Councillors Gary Parker and Linda Bird, rose to support the amendment noting that there were around three thousand elderly people in Greenwich Borough and the reality was that there would be a financial cost to provide support to those living in loneliness.  The enormous amount of work undertaken by volunteers across the borough in supporting work in this area should be appreciated and the Council needed to look at how avenues of opportunity could be created for the voluntary sector to do more.

 

Councillor Matt Clare felt it was disappointing that an amendment had been moved as a motion such as this should be apolitical.  He accepted that there would be funding issues but there were also areas of expense that could be cut or reduced, such as  Greenwich Info and the Tall Ships festival, to release funds to be re-directed into priority areas such as tackling loneliness.

 

Councillor Matt Hartley advised that the Motion proposed an idea for a new campaign against loneliness and thanked the Cabinet Member for their constructive response and that he was grateful that compromise, by both Parties, had created a better motion as a result and he was pleased that agreement had been reached on this issue.  He formally confirmed acceptance of the amendment.

 

Councillor Averil Lekau formally closed the debate.

 

The Mayor put the put the motion to a vote and it was;

 

Resolved –

 

That the Council notes that loneliness is a significant public health issue, with research finding social isolation to be as harmful to health as smoking 15 cigarettes a day and causing significant costs to the health service and society as a whole.

 

That the Council endorses the recommendations of the Jo Cox Commission on Loneliness as accepted by the Government in January, with a new dedicated Minister for Loneliness and a new cross-government strategy launching later this year.

 

That the Council applauds the work of the Social Isolation Strategy Group in understanding how our communities are affected by loneliness, and their continued work to identify people who may be particularly at risk in their areas, and to set out plans for local action to address these challenges.”

 

That the Council noted that locally:

More than 2,800 older people in Greenwich are estimated to feel lonely ‘all or most of the time’, according to the Campaign to End Loneliness

Only 41.6% of adult social care users, and only 20.0% of carers, in Greenwich feel they have as much social contact as they would like, according to 2016/17 figures 27 local neighbourhoods in the borough have a “very high risk” of loneliness in later life according to Age UK heat mapping data, with some ranked within the top 1% of 32,844 neighbourhoods in England for loneliness risk.

 

That the Council noted that while loneliness could affect people anywhere and regardless of age or personal circumstances, particularly “very high risk” hotspots have been identified by Age UK in areas within the following wards: Coldharbour & New Eltham, Eltham South, Middle Park and Sutcliffe, Eltham West, Kidbrooke with Hornfair, Greenwich West, Peninsula, Charlton, Common, Woolwich Riverside, Thamesmead Moorings, Plumstead and Abbey Wood.

 

That the Council notes the important work already underway to tackle loneliness:

 

That in our local voluntary sector, including by Age UK Bromley and Greenwich, Contact the Elderly, Greenwich Carers Centre, Goodgym, Listening Ears, Greenwich Pensioners Forum, Dementia Carers Group, Greenwich Citizens and local community and faith groups across the borough.

 

That through the co-ordinating role of the Social Isolation Strategy Group, set up by RBG in 2015 and chaired by GAVS, and in particular the success of the Forever Young Festival at The Stables, returning for a second year this September.

 

That through the inclusion of social isolation in the Greenwich Health and Wellbeing Strategy and the forthcoming Voluntary Sector Commissioning round.

 

That the Council believes, however, that more could be done to raise awareness of the problem of loneliness particularly amongst other demographic groupsacross the borough, and to mobilise the support of local residents in tackling it.

 

That the Council therefore resolves to launch a new campaign – ‘Greenwich Against Loneliness’ – to:

Raise public awareness of the issue of loneliness in the Royal Borough of Greenwich Mobilise local residents to support the campaign, by reaching out to their neighbours, and volunteering their time for local projects including Age UK Bromley and Greenwich’s Befriending Scheme

Bid for the “Building Connections” pot that has been made available to expand the offer already available to other groups.

 

Ensure that opportunities to tackle loneliness are not missed in any area of the council’s work, including through Ward Budget-funded projects in hotspot areas

 

That the Council requests that plans for the ‘Greenwich Against Loneliness’ campaign are brought before Cabinet by November 2018, following consultation with the local voluntary sector and public and private sector partners through the Social Isolation Strategy Group.

Supporting documents: