As part of Loneliness Awareness Week, we have spoken to some local coordinators to pick their brains on what loneliness means to them and how they are helping to tackle it.
Here is a Q&A with Sue Gorman, who is the Coordinator for Cockermouth Linking Lives …
Hi Sue! When and why did you set up your Linking Lives project?
We set up in October 2019 in order to combat loneliness and isolation in Cockermouth and the surrounding villages. We carried out research and consulted with partner organisations to identify the need and found it was a key priority for all of them. As Churches together in Cockermouth Area we wanted to reach out to our community and look outwards instead of just looking after ‘our own’ congregations.
What was it about the coordinator role that appealed to you?
The role was brought to my attention by someone who thought it would suit me, given my professional background and heart for people. I went along for interview, and it just felt ‘right’. I was able to be involved in the whole project from about 3 months before we launched.
What is the most important thing you have learned about loneliness during your time coordinating the project?
It can affect anyone at any time, regardless of their background. It has a major impact on their mental and physical health. One hour a week with one of our volunteers can make a real difference to their lives.
Do you have a favourite memory from your time in this role?
I have many, but I just enjoy speaking with Link Friends and volunteers and knowing that we are making a difference. They are so grateful for the time our volunteers spend with them and the feedback they give.
Do you have a particular story of a successful match or someone whose life has been changed through your project that you can share with us?
Again I have many! One has been featured on the LLUK website which you can read about here: https://linkinglives.uk/blog/we-have-so-much-in-common
What is your favourite or most rewarding thing about being a Linking Lives coordinator?
I love it all – the recruitment, the assessments, the matching up process, the relationships with our Link Friends and our Volunteers. Most of all I get the satisfaction of knowing we are doing something that helps people who are lonely and isolated. The more people we can help, the better!
For more information on Cockermouth Linking Lives, visit www.linkinglives.uk/cockermouth or www.facebook.com/cockermouthlinkinglives