Together Co community member, Jane* is a wheelchair user living with health issues that make it harder to get out and about. Feeling alone, Jane got in touch with Together Co Social Prescribing to help improve her social contact. With a bit of support, Jane’s been able to overcome barriers to explore her creative talents.

This Loneliness Awareness Week, she shares her experience.

It’s a bit like having a mentor, I really feel like there’s someone there to focus on my wellbeing

As a disabled person, I find it difficult to get out. But during the pandemic, that feeling worsened, and I’d developed longer-term side effects from being alone and not socialising much. I’d really lost my social skills and my confidence, which then impacted my motivation to get out and about, as well as other parts of my life such as creative expression and engaging with my hobbies. I’m a member of the LGBT community too, and I was really struggling socially without regular contact with others who are like me.

This is the second time I’ve seen someone from Together Co Social Prescribing, after getting in touch around two or three years ago. The first time, I was put in touch with the Neighbourhood Care Service (now Together Co Befriending), who organised for a woman to call in every week for about a year, which was lovely. I was also propelled to participate more in some meet-ups, and started to make some friends.

This time, because of the pandemic, those sorts of social goals were much more difficult and I missed human contact. My health problems have affected my ability to form friendships and go out, and generally develop my life in that sort of way.

With Together Co Social Prescribing, they show you how to make changes in your life, placing more of an emphasis on helping you to feel empowered to do it yourself. The process in itself is really enjoyable, because they really get to know you on a deeper level to work out what sort of person you are, to tailor what might work for you, and then which tools will help you take action in your own life. That part of the process is really relaxed and person-centred, and as someone with mobility issues that’s really important as I feel like more focus is put on my needs and how to fix them on a personal level.

It’s really helped me to address my fears and habits, taking small steps without pressuring me to set goals, which I find quite intimidating. Instead, the approach was gentler, more of a “what can we do to help you get where you want to go?” It’s a bit like having a mentor, I really feel like there’s someone there to focus on my wellbeing.

Anyone over 18 who’s living in Brighton and Hove can self refer to Together Co Social Prescribing here. Or find out more about Together Co Befriending here.

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