Linking Lives UK 2019 Conference Report
We were really pleased to welcome almost 70 people to our 2019 conference in Reading on 2nd March. Our theme of ‘Valuing Volunteers’ enabled us to celebrate the crucial role of volunteers in all of our communities, and reminded us to do all that we can to support and encourage them.
We were privileged to have some excellent workshop facilitators focusing on subjects including ‘Reaching and Keeping Volunteers’, ‘Social Prescribing’, ‘Inter-generational Working’, ‘Spirituality and Ageing’ and ‘Networking in our Communities’.
Our keynote speakers brought us some inspiring and very helpful information about latest developments on a national level. Olivia Field is the Senior Policy Adviser for in the Loneliness Unit at the Department of Digital, Culture, Media and Sports and she outlined the key aspects of the government’s Loneliness Strategy and explained the way in which these priorities are being taken forward during 2019. Examples included increased use of Social Prescribing and the appointment of link workers in local communities to assist in signposting residents to the most suitable agencies locally. Other pilot projects include the use of postal workers to look out for those at risk of social isolation/ loneliness in local areas. A national measure for loneliness has also recently been launched along with guidance and this is being trialled as a means to move towards a more coordinated approach to demonstrate outcomes.
Later in the day, Bishop James Newcome – Bishop of Carlisle (and our patron) – highlighted the crucial role of the church in providing opportunities for community in local neighbourhoods and he gave various examples in which this happening in many innovative ways. Bishop James also reminded us of the many Biblical examples in which those in society struggling with loneliness and marginalisation were supported, and God’s desire for community since the beginning of time.
One of the themes which arose during the day was that churches and faith groups have a crucial role to play in addressing loneliness and social isolation. With local post offices, libraries, community centres and pubs closing on a regular basis particularly in rural areas, this highlights the need for faith groups to continue to look for ways to reach out to those who are often ‘hidden’ in local areas.
If you are part of a local church or Christian organisation and would like to know more about ways in which Linking Lives UK can support you in this, please do contact us.