Social Action Fund launches with the aim to reduce social isolation

Social isolation and loneliness is a national priority and it’s no different in Oldham with 10% of residents identifying as being lonely, which has a detrimental impact on health outcomes, quality of life and life expectancy for those people.

That is why Oldham Cares’ Thriving Communities programme has made £850k available to fund up to five projects over a three-year period that can help reduce this.

We invited applications from projects which would:

  • Tackle social isolation in Oldham
  • Be transformational/innovative either in the delivery approach or the system change made within the Voluntary, Community, Faith and Social Enterprise (VCFSE) or with the public or enterprise.
  • Improve the mental health, physical health and wellbeing of people in Oldham
  • Support a reduction in the pressure on health services
  • Take a strength based approach to working with people

We received more than 20 applications from voluntary, community and faith groups/organisations with ideas ranging from cookery courses for parents and children to support on how to set up your own social groups.

The Oldham Cares commissioning partnership board awarded funds to five projects:

The Oldham BAME Consortium is a new partnership bringing together five community groups to develop three neighbourhood hubs which will focus on reaching out to the isolated Pakistani and Bangladeshi communities.

A programme of activities will be developed in consultation with residents based on community need such as information and advice, physical activity and wellbeing, befriending and peer support, food and nutrition, skills and education.

Wellbeing Leisure[1] will partner with community groups to provide physical activity and health and wellbeing opportunities. It will also offer opportunity for volunteers to learn skills and gain qualifications in health and fitness.

Oldham Play Action Group and Wifi NW – All-age cookery courses will bring children, parents, carers and older socially isolated people together to prepare and cook meals. The groups ­– run by Oldham Play Action Group (OPAG) and Wifi North West – will also encourage people to engage in active physical play as well as organise community play street events to join neighbourhoods together.

Street Angels will grow the already excellent work taking place in Oldham town centre on Saturday evenings and expanding into Friday nights. Teams of volunteers and medical staff are there to support those enjoying Oldham’s nightlife providing a listening ear, first aid and basic medical treatment as well as making sure people get home safely. As part of the programme, an evening drop-in and hot meals will be provided for people on the streets as well as future options for daytime support from the Street Angels centre.

Groundwork will lead a new partnership of organisations to bringing a variety of new activities to venues across local communities, using growing and food to increase healthy outcomes and connectedness across the borough. As well as enjoying all that is on offer, participants will be supported to develop, plan and sustain their own social groups around their hobbies and interests.

Councillor Zahid Chauhan, Cabinet Member for Health and Wellbeing said “We had an overwhelming amount of interest to our social action fund. This highlights all the amazing assets and ideas we can harvest within our communities.

We have made a real commitment to tackling social isolation and loneliness in Oldham and are looking forward to working with our successful applicants to make a real difference to residents’ lives.

Notes to editors:

[1]Wellbeing Leisure is a wholly owned subsidiary company of Oldham Community Leisure focusing on VCFSE development

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