Added: Jairo Lindo - Date: 28.02.2022 04:01 - Views: 18205 - Clicks: 4905
Mike Niles is a social impact entrepreneur based in Doncaster. His charity b:Friend aims to tackle the problem of social isolation facing our older population through a combination of innovative pairing and group befriending projects in the north of England.
Mike hopes that this will enable his enterprise to effectively scale across the UK and beyond, making a real difference to those most lonely and isolated in our communities. She was widowed in her late 80s and our family made sure she always had one of us popping in after work for a cuppa, or at the weekend. When I lived in London I felt a clear disconnect between myself — a young professional wannabe hipster living in Hackney — and people who are born-and-bred in the community I now called home.
Through a local charity I volunteered to visit an older lady that lived near me that was isolated and, as the weeks and years past, we became best of friends, despite the 50 year age gap. I believe that later life should be fun, full of friendships and colour and opportunity. We de tattoos, paint like Picasso, learn graffiti art and recite poetry. Whatever you think a group session for older people is, think again.
Take the digital revolution, for example. We work with people in their 90s that can WhatsApp friends, FaceTime family abroad and catch-up on the iPlayer on their tablet as competently as any young person. I think people are more open to acknowledging and discussing their feelings of loneliness now, in the same way that the stigma around mental health is not as it once was.
Pretty wet-behind-the-ears, right?! Even in that short time period, the demand for health and social care interventions from the charity sector has increased dramatically, yet the infrastructure to fund that demand is not forthcoming. They were part of the inspiration for b:friend and helped us to develop from very early stages right up to today. They work to a similar model, trying to reduce loneliness, but focus more specifically on connecting young professionals and older neighbours in our ever-changing cities around the UK.
I also hugely respect the work of Coppafeel. Their aim to educate young women and men is vital prevention that will increase early detection and save lives. If someone, for example, attempts suicide or is a victim of domestic violence, their immediate safety and health needs are met by our awesome NHS and social care system. Most of the ongoing healing and support for that individual, however, is picked up by our sector.
Regardless of wealth or status, in times of need and vulnerability, it is charity and community that gets an individual back on their feet. People that can give are often superbly successful in their field. The most valuable lesson has been to never underestimate anyone. At a time of political and societal division, each way you look, there is such wonderful goodwill to be witnessed between everyone, every day and everywhere. Each week, without fail, an older neighbour will approach us and tell us frankly that their befriender has completely changed their life. But it transforms a psyche: from monotonous solitude to knowing that someone values you, what you have to say and how you feel.
Research dictates investment in prevention will change outcomes and be cheaper than treatment; but we need to be bold. Be it youth violence, education of looked after children, mental health support or socially isolated older people. My second action would be to remove injustice as a construct.
Even when you believe in something passionately it takes a lot to stand against social convention. And even if you do stand up against it, you better be willing to commit because your nerve will be challenged. I find the diversity in the sector makes it one of the most vibrant and innovative sectors around.
What we need to focus on is how we utilise the platforms in the best way. Developments like the postal service, printing press and the telephone, not to mention the transformation of transport, have all impacted how humans interact. As much as AI could be a tool in reducing isolation, can you ever replicate the benefit of face-to-face contact? If you speak with your friends on WhatsApp each day, sharing photos, videos and hilarious memes, would you prefer that to catching up over coffee or a beer instead?
Town or Countryside? Countryside — sheep over shops any day. Favourite city? New Yourk City which is ironic given my last answer. Your perfect dinner guest, dead or alive?
Ayrton Senna. If you could learn a new skill it would be…? A musical instrument. Chicken Dippers, chips and beans plus ketchup. I was about 7. Not sure I can pinpoint other meals specifically so it must be this one. A book. Biggest extravagance? City breaks. I like to fly places in Europe for long weekends sometimes. Favourite book? Farenheit or The Invention of Air.
What would your gravestone read? Brown Bread.
But cremate me instead please. Less mess.
Dream collaboration: Someone or a brand that wishes to immerse themselves in this issue. Dream funding please specify what it would go towards : electric vehicles that are travelling everywhere, every day, taking people out of isolation and into communities.
Why are you so passionate about tackling the problem of loneliness? And what has been the greatest surprise so far on your journey? With very little resource we achieve a heck of a lot. Or do you feel it has had a detrimental impact to the way we socialise in society? But not a politician. If you catch me in politics you have my permission to give me a whack!
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