Standing Together Cymru: supporting the mental health and wellbeing of older people through maintaining community connections

1st Mar 2022
Mental health in later life

Our evaluation of the Standing Together Cymru project, the culmination of three years of work that adapted to meet the challenge of the pandemic, has been released today (Tuesday 1 March) to mark a very special day in Wales, St David’s Day.

Established with the aims of reducing the loneliness and isolation of participants and improving their emotional wellbeing, the project facilitated connections between tenants through meaningful activity. The group offered peer support and increased community engagement. This was particularly pertinent at a time when access to the outside world and day-to-day activities were halted due to the risk of COVID-19 and the ensuing restrictions - when participants reported a huge sense of loss, but which also provided a unique opportunity for them to connect with one another.

The project, funded by the Welsh Big Lottery, ran in partnership with four housing associations across South East Wales: Melin Homes, Derwen Cymru, United Welsh and Newport City Homes. These covered 22 housing schemes, supporting the 211 tenants who live there (195 people attended in person with 16 continuing over the telephone/virtually at the height of the restrictions).

Dr Jenny Burns, Associate Director of the Mental Health Foundation in Wales said: "We hope the findings will be of interest to the Older People’s Commissioner for Wales in realising her Ageing Well priority and show the value to Local Authorities of commissioning peer support groups when considering the needs of older people.

"We welcomed the Older Person’s Strategy published last year (October 2021) and ask that older people be recognised as a group experiencing inequality.  We would like to see their distinct needs met in the new Welsh Government mental health strategy and considered when the current strategy is reviewed later this year. Issues affecting the mental health of older people include digital exclusion and digital literacy, age-related poverty, poor access to health and social care services and ageism. Addressing these needs through a cross-governmental prevention approach should be a key measure for assessing the success of the next mental health strategy."


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