Tackling loneliness and isolation: Community Navigators Bristol

21 Sep 2017 Max Hickling

Older people in Bristol will get a boost to their wellbeing through an exciting new service that helps them connect more with their community.

Community Navigators Bristol offers free signposting and support to older people who want to feel less isolated and more involved in their local area. Friendly, trained ‘navigators’ will make contact with older people, get to know them and share information about what’s happening where they live. Whether it’s meeting people, becoming more active, rekindling old hobbies, volunteering or learning something new, the community navigator can point the older person in the right direction.

If the person needs extra support, the community navigator can come along with them when they try something for the first time. They can also support the older person with any concerns that they have about getting out and about – including safety, transport or money worries – by connecting them with other community and health services to tackle these problems.

The service provides short-term support for older people over 50 and is completely free. It is available to people in their home or via phone appointments.

“Loneliness is thought to be as harmful for our health as smoking 15 cigarettes a day – and according to Age UK there are 1.2 million older people in England who are chronically lonely,” said Laura Thacker and Gemma Holden, the two Community Navigator Coordinators for the Bristol-wide service. “Connecting people with their community can give huge benefits to long-term health and wellbeing. We hope that through our network of local community navigators we’ll be able to transform the lives of people who are currently feeling isolated from their own communities.”

Simone Davis, one of the service’s Community Navigators, said: “I’ve seen first-hand the devastating toll loneliness can have on older people, both physically and mentally. But I’m looking forward to being part of a new service that will find and support people at an earlier stage. I’ll be able to take time to find out what really matters to the people I’m working with. We’ll work together to find ways to make it easier for them to get out and build their own networks of support.”

How to get support

If you are over 50 and feeling lonely or isolated, get in touch with Community Navigators Bristol.  Or you can make a referral on behalf of someone you know, either personally or professionally.

Find out more about the service here: www.communitynavigators.org.uk 

About the Community Navigators Bristol partnership

Community Navigators Bristol is run by a partnership of trusted local organisations combining their community expertise, and is funded by Bristol Ageing Better, a programme dedicated to reducing isolation and loneliness among older people in Bristol.  Bristol Community Health is leading the service in south, east and central Bristol, and North Bristol Advice Centre is leading the service in north Bristol.

Other partners include: Ambition Lawrence Weston, Avonmouth Community Centre, Barton Hill Settlement, The Care Forum, Shirehampton Community Action Forum, Southmead Development Trust and Southville Community Development Association. If you would like to be a volunteer for the Community Navigators Bristol service, please get in touch via the details above.