PRESS RELEASE 11/11/14: Community agents making a splash in Doncaster

A NEW SERVICE  in Doncaster, targeted at supporting older people to face anxieties and reduce feelings of loneliness and social isolation, is having a large impact on the men and women taking part.

Doncaster Community Agents, a project operated by Rural Action Yorkshire (RAY) in partnership with the People Focussed Group (PFG), is all about connecting people to services, ensuring they feel part of their community and are able to take part in activities. It is aimed primarily at people over the age of 65, who may be at risk of isolation, loneliness, and mental or physical health problems. It is an agent’s role to identify the most vulnerable and excluded in their local area, and make attempts to offer any support or help that is available for them.

The scheme has been operating in both rural and urban parts of Doncaster since earlier this year and has been making significant in-roads since then. Lisa Smith, a resident living in Intake, is keen to share her story and raise awareness of the work of the agents involved.

Lisa suffers from heart conditions. Over the last few years she very much felt herself becoming cut-off from the outside world, spending a lot of time at home, watching the television and not getting out of the house. Community Agent Jan Milner, an ex-England Women’s football player who has strong networks in the area, came into contact with Lisa and linked her up with another lady who had been feeling vulnerable and who had a similar desire to increase fitness levels.

Since then, the two ladies have been attending swimming sessions at Rossington Leisure Centre together, and their group has since grown to nine members. The plan is for Jan to support the sessions until the ladies feel confident enough to continue as their own independent group. They have already developed a strong bond and begun completing other social activities together outside of the Community Agent project. The ladies describe feeling positive about themselves and pleased to be accessing existing community facilities again. Jan’s Community Agent Role has been vital in linking people together, locating resources and building confidence.

Lisa says of the Doncaster project’s help: “Jan is the best teacher and confidence builder ever. Thanks to her patient instruction, support and fun approach I have found a new lease of life which has beneficial effects on my health both physical and mental. 

“I never thought I would use the inside of a leisure centre or swimming pool again and would only have had my memories to sustain me. Thank you all so much.”

Doncaster Community Agents is made possible through funding from Doncaster Council and Clinical Commissioning Group, and operates across Intake, Braithwell, Old Edlington, Micklebring and Stainton. Jan, and her fellow agent Sharon Middling, are continuing  to identify lonely,socially isolated and disconnected people in their communities and to offer support.

Anyone wishing to be involved or benefit from the project can contact Wayne Munro-Smith of RAY at 0845 313 0270.

 

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Editor’s Notes

Photos available on request.

Media contact: 

Candice Dowson, Marketing & PR Officer, Rural Action Yorkshire tel. 0845 313 0270.

Contact for Lisa Smith, Jan Milner, or Wayne Munro-Smith available on request.

Rural Action Yorkshire

Based at Askham Bryan, near York, RAY is one of 38 Rural Community Councils in England.  It isan independent, charitable, and voluntary organisation working across rural areas of North, South and West Yorkshire, to help communities improve the quality of life for all people living and working in rural Yorkshire. Key work includes:

* Providing advice and grant support for sustainable multi-use community buildings, which can act as a focal point for village services

* Helping local communities carry out community led plans, which identify the strengths and weaknesses of village life and plan how the local community sees future development taking place

RAY and the other 37 rural community councils across England form the ACRE Network (Action with Communities in Rural England).

Find Rural Action Yorkshire online at www.ruralyorkshire.org.ukand Twitter @RuralYorkshire