How being a ‘Good Neighbour’ can do so much to tackle loneliness

East Suffolk Councillor James Mallinder with attendees of the meal Picture: DANNY BETHELL

East Suffolk Councillor James Mallinder with attendees of the meal Picture: DANNY BETHELL - Credit: Archant

A community initiative aimed at tackling social isolation has held its first annual lunch for more than 50 Suffolk residents.

Organised by the Good Neighbour scheme for Hollesley, Boytong and Shingle Street, the attendees were treated to a lunch of either turkey or fish pie.

The event was held at the Shepherd and Dog Inn in Hollesley last Monday.

Helen Lewis, chairman of the Good Neighbour Scheme for the villages, said: "People can be lonely, particularly in the winter. These events really cheer people up.

"We were overwhelmed with the number of residents who attended. The pub was at full capacity. "It was a lovely atmosphere and so many people remarked how much they enjoyed the afternoon."

The Good Neighbour Scheme in Hollesley, Boyton and Shingle Street was co-formed by Mrs Lewis in 2018 after she approached Community Action Suffolk (CAS) with her plans.

Funded by the Big Lottery, the initiative aims to tackle loneliness experienced by some members of the community by exploring ways to develop friendships and encourage regular contact.

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Following its formation in 2018, the scheme has gone from strength to strength - including expanding into other areas of the county.

The Good Neighbour Scheme also gets behind the Meet-up Monday initiative, held weekly at the Shepherd and Dog, which was set up to support those suffering from social isolation and loneliness.

Mrs Lewis said the meet-ups are vital as they provide residents with the chance to maintain regular contact with others and develop friendships.

She added: "We have a regular group of people who really enjoy getting together with others."

The lunch at the pub is planned to be a yearly occurrence given its success.

East Suffolk Councillor James Mallinder, who helped form the Good Neighbour scheme, said: "I am so pleased that, after our hard work of setting up the scheme, we can see how successful it is.

"This lunch has provided a chance for local residents to meet and have a chat over a hot meal.

"Social isolation is a big problem, especially in rural communities, so these organisations offer a lifeline to include people in community activities."

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