Connecting Torbay’s lonely residents

By David Gledhill, Marketing & Communications Lead

It can be a lonely old world – as we know so well at the Torbay Community Development Trust.

So many projects that we are involved with here at TCDT deal with people who have become unexpectedly isolated and found themselves struggling with loneliness, which in turn can have far-reaching implications for both mental and physical health.

When we ran the Ageing Well Torbay project, we found that so many people over the age of 55 had moved to Torbay seduced by happy memories of family holidays spent here when they were younger.

But nostalgia can be fickle; what people didn’t remember were the hills and the inaccessibility of large parts of the bay by public transport. Neither did they factor in the effects of subsequent ill health or even the death of a loved one.

So many people have moved here only to find that within a few years, their mobility has been compromised or their life partner has died, leaving them stuck at the top of a hill with limited means of getting down to the facilities in the town centres.

That is why we started the OurBus services, which connect areas without public transport to the hubs of Torquay and The Willows. Not surprising then that those that use the services consider the buses to be mobile community centres.

Research has shown a clear link between loneliness and health, and it is with that in mind that our Community Builders work so hard to ensure they seek out those who need them and provide access to a whole range of activities from afternoon tea dances to coffee mornings, as well as walking and exercise groups.

The one thing that all the activities have in common is the opportunity for people to come together to chat and enjoy each other’s company for as many hours in a week as they choose.

Community Builders provide the spark that makes so many events possible, but once up and running, more often than not, step back to allow others to organise and run in whatever way they choose.

The Torbay Together platform is the best place to find out what is happening in your area (just put that into your search engine and Google will take you there). Not only does it provide an exhaustive list of things happening, it also lets you know about the numerous support groups there are out there.

Perhaps you need to know what support groups there are in Torbay for people living with chronic pain, experiencing grief, or who have a loved one with dementia? Or maybe you are part of a support or activity group looking for new members or volunteers? It is all at your fingertips on the Torbay Together platform.

Torbay Together enables individuals and organisations to interact in a way that supports the development of a connected community. At its core is a searchable database of groups, events, activities, and volunteer opportunities. It’s free and easy to join, and once you have, you can connect with over 1,200 other members across the bay and browse the database to find local activities that match your needs or interests.

If you run a community group or organisation – of any size – you can promote your group or venue, advertise your events, or call out volunteers. In addition, your events, listings and calls for volunteers will be shared on the Torbay Together Facebook and Twitter feeds, helping your message reach even more people.

Torbay Together is also where you can join the Timebank – a skills share where time spent helping others earns you time spent on yourself. The Timebank works very simply. Let’s say you’re a keen gardener: you could lend a hand to someone who has problems looking after their own garden or needs some advice on putting the right plant in the right place. In return, you might get help to put up that shelf you have been needing at home.

You don’t have to be alone and there are lots of other people of all ages just like you who want to share their time doing things for themselves or for others and Torbay Together is what we like to call a gateway to a world of opportunities.

Check it out today by going to: www.devonconnect.org/torbay


Lonely person on a beach photo courtesy of Freepik.com

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