Leaflet to help the lonely

Southport Visiter - - Visiter Life - BY CHANTELLE HEEDS chantelle.heeds@reach­plc.com @chantelle­heeds Press­Reader.com +1 604 278 4604

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

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