Keeping older people connected during difficult times

Good Health & Wellbeing SDG

Wellbeing in rural Yorkshire

Pioneer Projects are a community creative and wellbeing organisation based in Bentham in rural north Craven, supporting people across the whole district.

They aim to improve the health, well-being and life opportunities of individuals and communities through the creative arts and learning, targeting especially the most vulnerable in society – the elderly and socially-isolated, those experiencing poor mental health or life limiting conditions like dementia or autism, and carers.

Inclusion and contributing to community life

They increase inclusion, improve people’s life skills and wellbeing and increase opportunities for them to contribute to community life. They also support pathways into volunteering, education or work. They are active on three levels;

A local Hub in Bentham for creative, learning and wellbeing activities Mental Health and Dementia Support sessions in Bentham, Settle and Skipton One of the partners managing the Compass E-Hub – co-ordinating an online Mental Health Hub Framework across Craven

A mother and daughter supported together

Iris, an older lady with mobility issues, supported by Belinda, her daughter, both found the remote support invaluable and took part in cookery sessions and light movement sessions when these were provided online.

Iris found the groups vital in helping her feel connected with a social group helping her feel much less isolated. After breaking her leg in July, the remote movement sessions were critical in helping her recovery.

Belinda confirmed that her mother was “so much brighter and more alive” after sessions with them “making a huge difference to her wellbeing”.

Her Mum was also able to stand much better the day after a session. Belinda felt better herself from participating in sessions, and cherished the respite it gave her from direct caring. She felt very much supported.

Like many participants, both mother and daughter expressed a great desire to return to real life activities but stressed how crucial the remote support had been to get them through really difficult times.


Helping families connect

Because social distancing and self isolation has intensified the needs of their beneficiaries Pioneer Projects requested funding to cover the cost of retaining their staff team to ensure beneficiaries stay creative, connected and well via phone support, web based activities and home deliveries.

The grant really helped mitigate a critical loss of income caused by lockdown so that Pioneer Projects remained operational and were able to do the work needed to transfer its support and services to a remote environment and sustain and develop them.

Feedback from people who accessed the support have confirmed the value of this, stressing that it had helped keep them feeling included, mentally and physically well and that this was often the only source of regular support they were receiving.

Developing their remote reach was an unexpected but welcome development for Pioneer Projects. They had been struggling with rural isolation and reach and whilst this doesn’t overcome connectivity issues in some areas, it did significantly extend their tool kit.

Respite and support

I’ve been meaning to email for months to let you know how grateful my mum and I are that you have managed to somehow find a way to keep sessions going on zoom.

As a carer, these sessions are as much a help for me, as for my mum. I’m grateful that you recognize the need for carers to have some support or even respite.

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