The Cabinet Office has awarded more than £800,000 to 7 social action projects across the country providing compassionate support to people at the end of their lives and to their families.
Through the projects volunteers will help to tackle loneliness and isolation, which people at the end of their life can often experience. Volunteers will provide companionship and emotional support, as well as practical support to help people reconnect with their own communities.
Support offered by winning projects includes providing transport to community groups and teaching people how to contact distant family members online.
Hospice UK, the national charity for hospice care, will manage the fund, which will support:
- Sue Ryder National Befriending Service
- Compassionate Communities in east London
- Aquarius in the West Midlands
- St Michael’s Hospice in Hampshire
- The Herts Neighbours Network
- Martlets Home Visitors Network in Hove
- St Michael’s Hospice in Harrogate
Volunteers will also be able to provide advice and signpost people to other guidance they might need. A number of the shortlisted projects will work with groups who have difficulty accessing support. For example, St Joseph’s Hospice will work with specific black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) communities in East London and Aquarius in the West Midlands will support people with alcohol-related liver disease.
The impact of the successful social action projects will be evaluated by the International Observatory on End of Life Care at Lancaster University and the Institute for Volunteering Research. The evaluation will make an important contribution to the evidence base for the impact of social action in this area.
Minister for Civil Society Rob Wilson said:
I am delighted to announce the recipients of the Social Action End of Life Fund. Often medical appointments, care needs and financial considerations can obscure the emotional needs that people face at the end of their lives.
These projects are great examples of how we can use volunteers within communities to make sure that nobody feels alone or unsupported, helping people live with compassion and dignity.
David Praill, Chief Executive of Hospice UK, said:
All of these valuable projects harness the power of volunteers to provide befriending and practical support for people approaching the end of life and their families. People facing this situation can often feel very isolated. This type of support can help them feel more connected and can make all the difference to their wellbeing and quality of life.”
Social Action End of Life Support Fund projects
- the Sue Ryder National Befriending Service will be able to replicate the service it already offers in West Berkshire across 6 other sites across West Yorkshire, Peterborough, Bedfordshire, Leeds and Cheltenham. They will receive £237,776
- the Compassionate Communities, East London project will be delivered by St Joseph’s Hospice. This project will use volunteers to develop social networks in Turkish/Kurdish and Afro Caribbean communities in Hackney, BAME communities in Newham, and the Bengali community in Tower Hamlets. They will receive £130,043
- ‘Reaching Out’, delivered by Aquarius. The service will provide advice, support and befriending services for people with alcohol-related liver disease, and their families, through a team of well-trained and supervised volunteers. They will receive £90,701
Saint Michael’s Volunteer Visitors delivered by Saint Michael’s Hospice, Harrogate. Volunteers will provide weekly companionship to people living at home as well as respite to their carers, including those isolated by geography in the largely rural catchment area. They will receive £53,131
- ‘The Herts Neighbours Network’ delivered by Peace Hospice in partnership with St Francis Hospice, Hertfordshire Community NHS Trust and Hertfordshire County Council. Volunteers will provide companionship and practical support, including helping people to use social media to reconnect with loved ones. They will receive £110,876
- Martlets Home Visitors delivered by Martlets Hospice. The service will provide social contact and practical support to people living at home, with a focus on helping people through the process of leaving a hospice to return home, which can be a time of worry and distress for many patients. They will receive £53,813
St Michael’s Hospice Befriending Service delivered by St Michael’s Hospice, North Hampshire. Volunteers will befriend people identified as isolated, including people living in rural seclusion. As well as traditional face-to-face befriending, the service will make use of digital and online networks. They will receive £146,540