ANDERSON Simon, BROWNLIE Julie, MILNE Elisabeth-Jane
A summary of a study examining low-level or everyday help and support and the role it can play in allowing people to lead ‘liveable’ lives. The study explored the ways in which the need for (and availability of) such support is shaped by social context, biography and relationships. It also looked at how support actually happens (or not) and how it is sustained over time. Key findings included: small acts of help, support and kindness were often mundane and barely noticed (even by those involved), but had fundamental consequences for individual and community well-being; although this everyday help was often practical, it could have important emotional consequences; individual circumstances, life stage and life events (e.g. parenting, ill health, retirement) created needs for informal help and support, but also ways of potentially meeting those needs; powerful emotions and moral considerations attached to these apparently straightforward acts, particularly notions of reciprocity and who should be considered deserving of help; many of the perceived risks of helping or being helped related to people’s concerns about their self-image or how others saw them; collectively, these acts and relationships of everyday help and support had an ‘infrastructural’ quality - they made possible other aspects of social life, but needed attention, maintenance and repair in their own right. The briefing concludes that while it is not possible to legislate for kindness, attempts should be made to avoid damaging – and, where possible, foster and extend – the conditions in which it occurs.
ROYAL VOLUNTARY SERVICE
A summary of the achievements of the Royal Voluntary Service Hospital 2 Home service during its first year. Leicestershire County Council launched the scheme in hospitals in six districts, including the three university hospitals in Leicester in summer 2012. The service provides practical help and support following a discharge from hospital; helps users to regain confidence and reduce anxiety; reduces social isolation; promotes independent living and choice; helps users to maintain day to day activities; provides information/signpost to other organisations; and helps prevent readmissions to hospital. Designed to be short-term, friendly and confidential and people-centred, the service is provided free of charge and is normally available for up to six weeks. Over 600 people have been referred. Among the participants readmission rates to hospital have been very low, with readmissions of older people approximately half national rates.
COLLINS Angela B., WRIGLEY Julie
This report evaluates the overall impact of the Joseph Rowntree Foundation Neighbourhood approaches to loneliness programme. The main principles of the Neighbourhood approaches to loneliness programme are that community activities can contribute to the well-being of people at risk of, or experiencing, loneliness; that such people can play a central role in these activities; and that this involvement can also enhance community well-being. This report is based on consultation with community researchers, professional stakeholders, programme staff and community members. The report highlights that good practice requires skilled staff who are able to communicate effectively and provide pastoral support to volunteers; reveals changes in community researchers resulting from their involvement in the programme; demonstrates where there has been community impact; and shares wider lessons which can be learnt from taking a neighbourhood approach.