We hear back from Manchester Cares, a recipient of the large grants from the £52,000 package to address mental health challenges during lockdown we awarded from our Covid-19 Community Response Fund earlier in 2020.
The Coronavirus pandemic and Manchester’s subsequent lockdowns have hugely increased isolation and loneliness amongst the residents of our city. This is a problem that has had larger ramifications on our older residents, not only due to increased susceptibility to the virus but particularly the isolation from family and loved ones that this causes. We were determined to provide funding to groups whose motivations are tied to the wellbeing of our older family members and friends, which is why we’re dead proud to have supported Manchester Cares in the delivery of a range of activities dedicated to this cause. Virtual Social Clubs, activity packs, check-in calls and the development of one-to-one friendships were all carried out with the support of our funding between August and October 2020.
Manchester Cares Social Clubs provide free, group activities for older and younger neighbours to come together on a regular basis, such as dance, cooking and documentary clubs, as well as one-off special events. When Covid hit and these were no longer able to take place face to face, We Love MCR Charity supported Manchester Cares to make them ‘virtual’ ensuring that vital community connection was not lost. Over the course of the project Manchester Cares hosted 31 of these Social Clubs, which in sum lasted 38 hours. In total, 56 younger neighbours and 111 older neighbours attended these events, sharing laughter and conversation, which is an incredible number. Our Grants Officer, Marie, attended one of them and got to witness a magic show! We’re told on good authority that it was a proper laugh and everyone enjoyed themselves.
Manchester Cares have also been supporting older neighbours to use Zoom video conferencing software to ensure they could attend. They told us about Liz (68) who lacked confidence with technology and prior to our support called to say: “you’ll never get me on here, it will be a miracle.” Since then, she’s attended 18 Virtual Social Clubs so far! She has loved becoming a part of the online world and told us that: “having time together and a purpose at the moment, when you are on your own is so useful”.
For those less able to leave their home, the Manchester Cares Love Your Neighbour (LYN) programme is a one-to-one friendship scheme, which matches a younger neighbour with an older neighbour for weekly call or visits. After stopping face-to-face activities due to COVID-19 Manchester Cares adapted this programme to Phone-A-Friend (PAF), with all interactions becoming remote or socially distant. With the support of We Love MCR Charity, older and younger neighbours have shared a total of 330 calls and 219.25 hours of conversation!
Lastly, we supported Manchester Cares to deliver their #AloneTogether packs which were delivered each month by post or email to 668 people. Over the course of the project older and younger neighbours shared over 70 creative tasks, tips and activities through the packs.
Manchester Cares said to us:
“We had piloted new ways to reach the most isolated members of our community, we needed funding to scale these so that we can support the mental health and wellbeing of older neighbours as this crisis unfolded. We applied the learnings from our pilot phase to ensure that our programmes are even more far reaching and impactful. With We Love Manchester’s support, we managed to continue reducing loneliness and isolation amongst older and younger neighbours; improving neighbours’ wellbeing, connection, belonging, purpose and power; and bringing people together to bridge the gaps across social, generational, digital, cultural and attitudinal divides.
It was a great experience working with We Love Manchester! You are truly a backbone for the voluntary sector in our city and we could not be more thankful for your agility in stepping up to help charities and community groups. Thank you.”
Hear Rob from Manchester Cares tell us at the start of this what the grant would enable them to do: