Housing group supports initiative to tackle loneliness in remote communities

Loneliness in some of the most remote communities in County Durham is set to be tackled by a new initiative, part funded by one of the region’s largest housing associations.

Durham County Federation of Womens Institutes has launched a new programme of training in the use of social media, online shopping and smartphones to alleviate loneliness thanks to funding from believe housing.

The two-year-long ‘Everyone Connected’ project will help WI members keep in touch with friends and family around the world as well as making the most of other digital opportunities like saving money on utility bills. The initiative will also set up a host of social media groups that will help members keep in touch between meetings. It is estimated that up to 2,000 WI members in the county are likely to benefit from the project.

Training will be delivered by volunteers from Durham County Federation of Womens Institutes at their Spennymoor base. The funding from believe housing’s community grant programme will be used to provide equipment such as a laptop, printer and projector as well as to purchase essential software for the project.

Funding Officer from believe housing, Damian Pearson, said: “This project is a great opportunity to use digital tools like social media to help tackle long-standing issues like isolation in some of the more remote parts of the county. When we read the funding application we were really excited by what the team at the WI were trying to do and were very pleased to be able to help.

“Our community funding programme is always open to applications like this that can turn a relatively small investment into significant outcomes for people in County Durham.”

Vice-Chairman of Durham County Federation of Womens Institutes, Sue Fox, said: “We are very grateful to believe housing for supporting us and our members across the County. One of our big campaigns is to alleviate loneliness, having the equipment to help members to keep in touch with family and friends will be a great benefit to tackle loneliness and isolation.”

Full details of the believe housing community grant programme are available at www.believehousing.co.uk or by calling 0300 1311 999. The scheme provides funds of up to £500 and is designed to help new groups take their first steps as well as supporting longstanding organisations. The application process has been kept deliberately simple and funding decisions are made monthly to ensure groups are not waiting for lengthy periods to find out if they have been successful.
Any community organisation, non-profit making group, charity or school is eligible for the scheme.

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