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Ongoing support from Benenden Health reduces loneliness

13th April 2021

York City Football Club Foundation has worked with not-for-profit healthcare provider, Benenden Health for the best part of the last decade. The breadth of the work they have supported for the Foundation, who work as a charitable organisation using sport to have a positive impact, has resulted in thousands of children, young people and adults benefiting from numerous programmes of support.

The latest project that Benenden Health are providing support to, is in direct response to how the Pandemic has affected people’s physical health and wellbeing, and isolation levels over the last year. The numerous lockdowns have affected levels of activity across all ages, and YCFC Foundation have been working to build on relationships with local GP practices and Link Workers to help address this.

The Office of National Statistics suggests loneliness levels fluctuated during the pandemic showing 1 in 4 adults were experiencing this. Once the clocks went back and the nights were drawing in the week before November 1st, those feeling lonely always or often reached 8% representing 4.2 million people. YCFC Foundation looked to reduce these feelings and increase activity levels locally, by working with their partners in the medical profession to “prescribe their support” to people.

“Benenden Health’s support has allowed us to offer access to free support from Foundation staff with access to physical activity sessions including Walking Football and Get Your Kit On recreational and social football activities, as well as our social community groups, and individual doorstep visits and walk and talks. So we have been able to provide an offer that has reflected whatever Tier or level of lockdown we have found ourselves in, “said Paula Stainton, YCFC Foundation Manager.

The project which launched from September 2020, will offer 375 contact hours on a short term or long term basis, and so far has impacted on over 30 new referrals from GP’s who the Foundation are in contact with weekly.

Amy Tyro, Inclusion Manager spoke of her involvement, “As a staff member not knowing what to expect and then seeing how your visits can impact an individual is very rewarding. As an example, for the first 4 or 5 visits Margaret was very cautious.  She did not have the inclination to leave the house initially, but just gentle encouragement was required to go for a walk and we now do this weekly, going further each time. She always comments on how she feels better for doing it afterwards and is a good way to prevent her from spending even more time in bed. We now have good conversations, and it is great to see her laugh and engage with our staff.”

It has been great to be involved in this project, and delivering something that we wouldn’t usually, has allowed us to grow even further and really think about the needs of our community. We hope to continue finding any gaps and bridging these where we can.”

Not only have these visits given structure to the week and a companion to Margaret and many others, but they too have increased the confidence, activity levels and ability of some who were feeling the negative impact in this latest lockdown and in many cases become the only face to face contact they have each week.”

Trina Higgins, Engagement & Wellbeing Coordinator at Benenden Health said, “Throughout lockdown, we know that loneliness levels have increased, so maintaining positive social connections within the community has become even more important for our heath and wellbeing. We’re really pleased to see this project is having a positive impact on members within our local community, and that support has been able to be provided through all stages of lockdown. We look forward to hearing more success stories as York City FC Foundation’s project continues over the coming months.”

For further information on projects and activities that York City FC Foundation are running please contact them on inclusion@yorkcityfcfoundation.co.uk.

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