Connecting Communities in Berkshire combats social isolation

CCB (formerly Community Council for Berkshire) has been supporting rural communities throughout the county for over 45 years. It has recently made the decision to update its name to better reflect its mission and will now be known as Connecting Communities in Berkshire.

The new name coincides with the development of a major new project. In recent months, CCB’s Chief Officer, Tim Parry, has conducted research into loneliness and isolation in rural communities, with financial help from the Dunhill Medical Trust and Redwood Technologies via the Berkshire Community Foundation. The project involved developing an understanding of the factors that may indicate areas at a higher risk of loneliness and ways of mapping the provision of social activities against demographic data to help uncover un-met need. 

“There are many interesting and varied activities taking place in communities across Berkshire,” Tim explained, “but we constantly hear that loneliness and isolation is a growing issue. We can help community groups of all kinds – and, indeed, individuals – to become aware of what activities and events already exist, who might be missing out and whether there is a willingness to get new activities established. There are many case studies available that tell inspiring stories that can motivate us all to play our part in reducing this problem.” 

These issues were discussed in early February at a conference on Loneliness and Isolation, Beyond the Front Door, hosted in conjunction with Volunteer Centre West Berkshire. “The event showed how many excellent projects have already taken place in the area,” Tim said afterwards. “Most of these are easily replicable but for this to happen, people need to be aware of them. We’re also in touch with organisations from other counties concerning their initiatives – more great ideas that can be re-used in Berkshire.”

The CCB is also aware of a number of projects that for whatever reason have not worked as planned. “It’s obviously disappointing when this happens,” Tim admitted, “but the important thing is to understand why and to use this knowledge to help other groups avoid making similar mistakes. Our ever-increasing knowledge of successes and failures is at the disposal of any group that wishes to contact us.”

The CCB works with a wide range of local and community groups to help them become ‘strong, sustainable and able to take control of their own futures.’ The CCB’s mission is to ‘inspire communities in Berkshire to thrive by providing information, advice, support and training to individuals, groups and other organisations and creating projects that have positive, long-lasting effects.’

Tackling social isolation is only one aspect of its work but one which is a growing and often invisible problem. The CCB has identified three specific ways in which it can help and support community groups:

• By raising awareness of the issue and helping people to spot the signs of social isolation.
• By helping them to promote events and activities beforehand and celebrate them afterwards.
• By working with groups to ensure that the past successes from other areas can be replicated.

If you’re  involved in a community group – including parish councils, village hall committees, shops, pubs, religious groups, community transport schemes and exercise classes – and would like to find out how CCB can help your group and your community in this or any other way, please contact Tim Parry on Tim.Parry@ccberks.org.uk or 07738 887611. You can visit the CCB website by clicking here.

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