At this year’s Campaign to End Loneliness International Conference we discussed Brighton’s response to loneliness through our award-winning partnership model called Social Prescribing Plus. 

The panel discussion on February 2, led by Rachel Friggens, Together Co’s Head of Social Prescribing, explored what work is being done in the city.

We work in partnership with Sussex Interpreting Services, Friends, Families and Travellers, Switchboard LGBT+ Helpline, and The Trust for Developing Communities, to address loneliness and how the voices of lonely people are heard and represented. 

Our place-based loneliness strategy is carried out with many other organisations, including those who helped Judy and Bert. 

Judy & Bert

Judy, 78, had been told it would be impossible to take her 90-year-old husband Bert on holiday because of his dementia diagnosis. 

Not knowing where to turn, she was referred to Together Co’s social prescribing team and link worker, Mary, helped Judy to navigate services and grants she did not know she could access. 

She also helped the couple realise their dream of going on holiday together after Judy was advised against taking Bert away from home. 

      I knew if I had Mary to talk to that I would be all right. Mary has been my guide, my social support and my adviser.

Judy said: “Bert had been in and out of respite care a few times and it hadn’t been very successful.  

“Mary asked us how we went out, what did we do, our likes and dislikes, and she also asked me how I was. When you’re caring for someone, people don’t ask you that question very often. 

“Lockdown had been hard because day centres were closed, and we only had a couple of people coming in and out of the flat. 

“Mary tried her best all the time to show us what was available. We went to a community café for a while which was very nice, where we got cakes, cups of tea and hand massages. 

“I wanted to go back to the synagogue, I wanted to learn how to crochet and play the ukulele. But the plan changed after Bert went into respite care and it was a disaster.

“We had to work out how we could care for him at home.  

“We looked at a lot of options, including a care package and a personal assistant. Then liaised with the social worker.” 

Reconnecting

The couple also enjoyed a holiday on the Isle of Wight with help from Dementia Adventure.

The charity offers practical, emotional and financial support, and tailor-made breaks for people living with dementia, and those who care for them, allowing them to go away together and enjoy some much-needed respite. 

Mary was able to access funding from Brighton District Nursing Association Trust and St Bernard Support to pay for part of the holiday. The rest was paid for by Dementia Adventure.  

Judy said: “I did nothing once I got on the ferry to the Isle of Wight. We were completely looked after.

“Everyone around us helped, it was something else, I would recommend it to anybody. 

“Bert flourished physically and mentally while we were away, and Bert and I were even able to dance together.

“We were very well looked after. We were able to be husband and wife again.” 

Making a difference through social prescribing

Judy said she had never heard of social prescribing until she was referred to Together Co but her experience of the service has made a difference to everything in her life.

She said: “Mary has supported me just by being there and trying to make sure everyone is talking to everyone.

“I knew if I had Mary to talk to that I would be all right. Mary has been my guide, my social support and my adviser.

“We always envisaged ourselves in later years doddling along the seafront and stopping for cups of tea.

“It is sad after 48 years that it has come to this, but as long as we are together that’s all that matters.”

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