Strong Neighbourhoods ease loneliness- study
This is one of the many interesting findings from the survey conducted by Massey University on our behalf. The initial findings were announced at a function in the Rimu Room, Coastlands, 8th November by Professor Chris Stephens from the Health and Ageing Research Team at Massey.
Living in a friendly, secure neighbourhood is one of the key ways to keep loneliness and social isolation at bay in the older age, according to our study of over 65s living on the Kapiti Coast.
The study used two established measures to find the levels of loneliness in the over 65s living on the Kapiti Coast. The First- the UCLA Loneliness Scale- found that 21% of respondents reported moderate or high levels of loneliness. The second- The De Jong Gierveld Loneliness Scale which distinguishes between social and emotional loneliness- found that 44% reported moderate to high levels of loneliness.
Prior to this study we were not sure of the extent of loneliness among older people in Kapiti. The study has confirmed it’s real and that steps need to be taken to understand the issues and find solutions. There are implications in the findings for the likes of central and local governments and the Age Friendly initiative here on the coast. Of particular interest to us in the findings is the important role that neighbours and neighbourhoods can play in alleviating loneliness. One of the strategies we are currently working on in our AgeConnect Kapiti project is encouraging people to get to know their neighbours.
For more information -> Massey 2019_social_connections_report
The findings of the Massey University study make it vital for AgeConnect Kapiti and all other interested organisations, groups, and individuals to find initiatives that reduce these concerning figures.
Strategies we are working on are:
- Encouraging people to know their neighbours and,
- Establishing a network of Community Connectors who know where to signpost older people to information that can help them stay connected and involved.
Creating vibrant and happy communities starts at neighbourhood level but current lifestyles often mean people don’t know their neighbours. It’s well known that neighbours come together and reach out to one another following a crisis, so how can we bring the community spirit to life every day in our own neighbourhood?
It can be as simple as having a chat and getting to know one another over a coffee or cup of tea, sharing ideas, stories and finding out who is keen to help make your neighbourhood a great place to live. It only takes one person to initiate an informal gathering of neighbours to get things started.
The AgeConnect Kapiti Neighbourhood initiative aims to encourage neighbours to come together. We would love to hear about things that happen in your street to feature on this page. Go to ‘Tell Us” at the top of the page to send a short paragraph and a photo.
Horopito Road, Waikanae
Neighbours in Horopito Road, Waikanae got together on a beautiful sunny February afternoon.
An initial gathering had been planned in March 2020 but was unable to go ahead due to the Covid-19 lockdown. Instead, a mailbox drop was initiated by a couple of households asking who would be interested to keep in touch during the unusual and uncertain times we were facing. From this, an email list was set up enabling neighbours to keep in contact during and after lockdown.
Everyone in the neighbourhood was keen to meet face to face and an afternoon tea was arranged and held on a neighbour’s front lawn. Nearly 50 people arrived bearing something for afternoon tea and they were soon laughing, talking and making connections. Some having lived in Horopito Road for many years while others only a short time, it was clear how important it was for all of us to get to know one another.
Before the afternoon concluded it was agreed to hold get togethers several times a year with different people hosting the gathering. A dedicated email address was also agreed with one resident agreeing to be responsible for keeping the contact list up to date and emailing details of future get togethers and other important information.
Ferndale, Waikanae – BBQ
Waikanae’s Ferndale subdivision has grown very rapidly over the last few years, and now has a mix of ages ranging from the very mature to young families. A great sense of community has dev eloped with the active encouragement and participation of the ‘early settlers’. This has been assisted by the fact that everyone is new to the area and keen to be a part of such a friendly, supportive and welcoming community.
To assist in fostering a community atmosphere, Ferndale Residents have formed an Association. Each year the Ferndale Residents Association holds its annual barbecue in the Ferndale playground. In February this year, approximately 30 residents and their families took the opportunity to enjoy the fine weather and to catch up with other members of the community. The playground provided a safe environment for children to have fun, play together and ride on their bikes and scooters. We all had a relaxed and enjoyable afternoon.
During the past two years we have planted a community orchard in our subdivision, with each family donating one or two trees, and providing ongoing care for them. At this year’s barbecue, wooden labels and engraving tools were available for those present to make labels for their trees. These were fun to make, but not without a few mistakes and re-makes.
The labels were attached to the trees the following week during another community get-together, this time to prune their trees.
To help us reach more people in Kapiti, we are pleased to be working with Neighbourhood Support Wellington. Their monthly newsletter has a range of excellent information including details about AgeConnect Kapiti.
You can see their current newsletter by clicking here.
Here are some tips about starting a Neighbourhood Group?
- List people you know in your street and seek their support
- Decide when and where the initial gathering will be held
- Drop an invitation into neighbours mailboxes
- At the gathering:
Welcome and get neighbours to introduce themselves
Discuss the reason for setting up a Neighbourhood Group:
- Social connections
- Assistance and support in times of emergency
- Being part of Neighbourhood Support network
Discuss and decide:
- How often meetings will be held
- Responsibility for organising meetings
- Setting up and maintaining the contact list