Campaign update: How our district has pledged to end loneliness once and for all

This week's campaign feature focuses on how our district has united to end loneliness through the launch of a new project, the Harrogate Hub.

Thursday, 2nd February 2017, 10:23 am
Updated Thursday, 2nd February 2017, 10:26 am
Tim Hurren, Guy Donegan-Cross and Jo-Ann Hughes with staff members and invited guests. (1701281AM1)

“No one in this day and age should have to be feeling hopeless or disconnected”, said Jo-Ann Hughes, the director of the Harrogate Hub, which has just opened up on 39 Oxford Street in the town centre.

The Hub, run by volunteers from churches across the district, aims to end loneliness by throwing its doors open to the community with a warm welcome and a listening ear.

Volunteers and visitors at the Hub’s open day on Saturday emphasised the importance of simply taking the time to talk to someone who might be feeling lonely or isolated.

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Attendees at the Arch event.

Rachel Demain said: “I think the Hub is a brilliant idea, it is in a central location, and the volunteers here can work out what you need, give you guidance to other support available, and listen to you.

“If you are in town, you’ll have someone to greet you, and it’s just knowing that people have somewhere to go and turn to that makes it a good idea too.”

Carol Bracher, who helps to train the Hub’s volunteers, said: “The volunteers we have here are wonderful, the willingness of people to come and help one another is just incredible.

“And I think through doing this we hope to encourage people to be more community-minded.

Attendees at the Arch event.

“I think this is important for somewhere like Harrogate in particular, where people can be very busy and don’t necessarily always have the time.

“We are here to listen and talk to people.”

The project is keen to reach out to as many people as possible and address a hidden need for more social contact in the district.

Jo-Ann Hughes said: “I think that is the whole point of it for me, I am just so aware of the need here, that there is real deprivation in the area that is hidden.

“I just hope that people will come to the hub and reconnect so that they don’t feel so isolated.”

Trustee Ian Connell said: “For many people it is the start of a journey, people have come in looking for something and we can help them.

“Somebody had a vision and convinced all of us to take hold of that vision.”

The Harrogate Hub is open on a Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, 2pm-4pm.

It will take a year for the project to be fully operational, but the Hub will continue to recruit more volunteer pastoral carers throughout the year and would like to hear from anyone over 18 who is interested in becoming one.

With more volunteers, the project aims to open its doors in working hours and out of hours.

To find out more about the Hub’s support, or how to become a volunteer, visit their website: or call 01423 369393.

Response to our calls to action:

We are delighted that after reading our campaign, Arch mediation was inspired to organise an event to help tackle loneliness.

Arch ran a free session at their Regional Agricultural Centre offices at the Great Yorkshire Showground, welcoming older people from the Harrogate Easier Living Project and Supporting Older People.

The afternoon was an opportunity for attendees to meet new people and discuss the activities and opportunities that are on offer in the district to help ease feelings of loneliness and isolation. Catharine Green from Age UK North Yorkshire talked about the charity’s daybreak activities and ageing well exercise classes.

Christine Turner from HELP said: “Everyone really enjoyed themselves, it was a great opportunity for our clients to get out and enjoy meeting new people over a cup of tea, and find out what support is available.”

Tony Pardoe from Arch said: “The event went down really well, there was certainly a lot of laughter and everybody seemed to enjoy taking part.”

Kate Rogata from Supporting Older People said: “The clients enjoyed meeting each other and sharing their experiences. One talked about how she copes with loneliness and the importance of having a balance between finding activities to do with others and learning to enjoy her own company.

“Others talked about the importance of knowing where to turn to meet others - for example, our group activities, or being signposted to the Age UK Home Secretary or benefits advisor, which we do. They all said that they would welcome the opportunity to meet as a group again and we hope to be able to do this.”

The Harrogate Advertiser would like to thank Lynda Freeman, Maggie Buckley and Tony Pardoe for running the event and joining our mission to end loneliness.

Appeal to local businesses to back campaign

The Harrogate Advertiser would like to invite local businesses and organisations to support our Ending Loneliness campaign and follow the lead of Arch.Whether that is through fundraising for a charity tackling loneliness, raising awareness of the issue, or running an event as part of the campaign, we would love to hear from you. Email: [email protected] or call 01423 707505.

A letter from reader Hazel Griffiths

“I am a carer for my dad who has dementia, a son who has autism, and I am pleased to have become community and voluntary sector representative member for North Yorkshire Crisis Care Concordat. I am part of the National Autistic Society Harrogate branch and help to raise awareness around autism within the community. We arrange an annual conference, provide a youth club and adult social group to reduce social isolation and give advice to parents and professionals. I’m very happy to be contacted by anyone with a good interest in mental health who may have information or concerns that they would like me to share. I am calling on third sector partners to help understand how they support people in crisis, mainly around prevention, reducing social isolation, providing safe haven, recovery and staying well. How can the third sector be involved with the Crisis Concordat? My email address is [email protected]"