Helping Blackpool residents get connected
The latest technology is helping residents in Claremont get connected after lockdown highlighted many people were cut off from friends and family.
A £5,000 grant from the Lancashire Covid 19 Community Support Fund has been used to buy tablets and provide digital support for those who did not have internet access.
The project – spearheaded by ward councillors Lynn Williams and Ivan Taylor – has led to a group of previously isolated residents forging new links with each other both online and by meeting up in person.
It is now hoped to develop the scheme further after its development was handed over to Blackpool based charity Empowerment.
Coun Williams said: “Last year while doing some deliveries on the ward, I was struck by the high proportion of single males of a more mature age who needed some type of support during the lockdown.
“There were people without a lot of family support, who were new to area or were not able order stuff online etc.
“With other things unavailable, such as no pubs open or football to go to, it was causing real isolation issues.
“So we managed to get some funding to buy some tablets and get people started online and it’s now gone from strength to strength.”
Linzi Cason, from Empowerment who is managing the project, said a group of about nine people were now involved.
She said: “The group began by meeting on zoom and that went really well. Since then we’ve been able to meet face to face with people sharing advice and swapping skills.
“It’s been things like helping someone set up a Facebook account and they’ve been able to get in touch with family they haven’t seen for years.
“Another member is a former military veteran and they’ve been able to get in touch with veterans groups.”
Another outcome of the project is inviting members to go sea fishing on Blackpool Promenade after one of the members David Stanley shared his enthusiasm for the sport.
Linzi added: “The project is all about connection. It’s not just people who live alone who might feel lonely.
“Sometimes in your adult years it’s more difficult to make friends as you’re not as active in the community.
“But we’re seeing health and wellbeing improve with the people we are working with because they are making a connection.”
Further funding has been secured to extend the project which is now seeking to recruit a community engagement office to spend two days a week on the scheme.
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