Disability charity to tackle loneliness in Gloucestershire

21 December 2018

Disabled people in Gloucestershire are set to benefit from a leading charity’s work to tackle loneliness and isolation.

Leonard Cheshire will work with local community groups, volunteers and businesses to boost sports, local entertainment, and leisure activities available to disabled people.

More than 100 disabled people will benefit from increased confidence, mental wellbeing and independence as a result of the ‘Opening Doors’ initiative.

For those who don’t want to or can’t leave their home, technology and social media will be used to tackle isolation.

Richard, who participated in the project in another part of the UK was a former detective and marathon runner. After a brain stem stroke in 2012 he had extreme difficulties communicating, becoming ‘locked in’.

He said:

‘This is a really important project for me.

‘I want to help inspire people who may be feeling lonely or isolated, or simply that they feel they don’t fit in.

‘I want to encourage them to get out, and that’s why I’ve put myself forward into the spotlight to demonstrate that, with support, it is possible to overcome fears and difficulties, and find worthwhile activities.’

Leonard Cheshire are delivering ‘Opening Doors’ Gloucestershire thanks to a £100,000 grant from the Big Lottery Fund.

Disabled people that take part can also be matched with a volunteer ‘buddy’ to do activities one-to-one or take part in inclusive group activities of their choice.

For some this will mean they get support to join existing community activities they have not felt able to do before. 

Jan Balzanella, Head of Volunteering at Leonard Cheshire said:

‘Opening Doors will give many disabled people in Gloucestershire opportunities to take part in inclusive activities, whatever their ability.

‘This project will strengthen relationships in the local area to help break down social barriers and reduce loneliness, giving people more choice and independence to live the way they choose.’

The Opening Doors project in Gloucestershire will begin in early 2019. 

Media enquires

For further information, please contact Cathy Lynch in Leonard Cheshire’s external communications team. E: catherine.lynch@leonardcheshire.org. T: 020 3242 0442. Out of hours contact: 07903 949 388

Notes to editors 

  • National research conducted by a coalition of disability organisations including Leonard Cheshire and published by Sense (2017) shows that over half of disabled people are chronically lonely.  Research by the British Red Cross (2016) and the ONS (2018) also indicates that people with mobility limitations have among the highest rates of loneliness of any group in the UK.  
  • Insight from the Gloucestershire Council Thriving Communities Department’s Know Your Patch network (2018) highlighted that loneliness is a key social care issue facing people in Gloucestershire.  
  • ‘Opening Doors’ Gloucestershire began through a local government grant and has previously delivered in other areas of the country including Kirklees and the East of England. These schemes showed that transport is a critical concern for disabled people. To combat this, award winning charity Fares 4 Free who provide free community transport preventing social isolation will work with Leonard Cheshire to adapt their successful model from Scotland to England.

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