Leaflet to help the lonely
THE touching story behind a new initiative to improve the health and wellbeing of lonely people in Southport has been revealed.
The project, which launched at Ormskirk and Southport hospitals, ensures that all patients are given a booklet of contact details for organisations from which they can seek help for loneliness on their discharge.
Local politician Terry Durrance came up with the idea to produce a booklet after he realised that there was a difficulty in contacting people who are experiencing loneliness and providing them with the information for organisations who can help them.
He said: “My interest in the subject of loneliness was born many years ago when as a member of Southport Rotary, delivering Christmas food parcels to deserving people.
“An old lady answered the door and her eyes lit up. It wasn’t because of the food parcel I was holding, it was because someone had knocked on her door and was prepared to spend some time talking to her. She was lonely. Her family had moved away to other parts of the country, her husband had died, and the only person who ever spoke to her was the postman.
“Since then, I have been doing whatever I can to support those who set out to alleviate loneliness wherever I can.”
The Southport Ukip leader said he had tried various methods of contacting people, but they were unsuccessful.
Mr Durrance added: “The difficulty has always been to identify and make the initial contact with these people and bring them and the organisations that can help them together. I have been working on this for a long time and trying such things as leaflet drops through letter boxes, but never with satisfactory response.”
Mr Durrance said that he was passionate about providing those who may be experiencing loneliness with the help they need. He said: “Loneliness must be one of the biggest social challenges to our lives today.
“It is something that affects people of all ages but is, perhaps, generally perceived as being mainly associated with older people. There is almost a culture of loneliness out there and, once people find themselves on this path, it is very difficult to see any light at the end of the tunnel and people become trapped within that culture.
“They cannot see a way out and they resign themselves to a life of loneliness without realising that there are a lot of organisations out there who really can help their situation and lift them out of their solitary existence and help them rebuild a more fulfilling life.”
The launch of the leaflet was attended by Southport MP Damien Moore and representatives from the organisations involved in creating it, who went to the hospitals to provide information to the public.
It is hoped that the project will be well received and helpful for the community and that it will also be of interest to other hospitals around the country.
Mr Durrance said: “Loneliness is something that we should all be determined to do something about. Let’s make the launch of this project the turning point.
“This is a long-term ongoing project and if successful – not if, but when – it is successful, it could be something that catches on and could be extended into other hospitals.”
The Southport Hospital launch of a new initiative to combat loneliness with Terry Durrance, fourth from right, and Southport MP Damien Moore, fifth from right