Coping with Extreme Isolation

Extreme isolation is all too common for the older population who can often go weeks without seeing another person

Recent research has revealed that extreme isolation which causes loneliness is a far bigger problem than merely an emotional experience or a feeling. Coupled with social seclusion, it contributes to ill health and lacking social connections is a comparable risk factor for early death as smoking 15 cigarettes a day (see the report). Our goal is to help reduce isolation and improve the social lives of our members and their families.

Westway CT offers a ‘One Stop Shop’ range of services for individuals who cannot access mainstream public transport easily. The Volunteer Cars, Shopper Services and Mobility Scooters make up Westway CT’s Services for Individuals; available to residents living in Kensington & Chelsea and Westminster. As a Member, you can choose your preferred mode of transport, to enable you to get out and do what you want to do and when.

The Volunteer Cars; a one-to-one car service, offered to residents living in Kensington & Chelsea or Westminster, are supported by a dedicated team of volunteers. The scheme provides transport to enable you to to get out of the house when you want to. The project is not a standard taxi service and is supported solely by a team of volunteers who use their cars, or one of Westway CT’s allocated vehicles. As a member, you choose where you want to go, what you want to do and when you want to do it. You can book a journey to attend activities and classes, visit friends and family, attend appointments or generally go about your everyday business, as long as we can find a volunteer willing to drive you. “Providing a Car Service for local people who can’t access mainstream public transport doesn’t just address a mobility issue,” says Anna Porta, Business Development Manager, “it does so much more than that. It addresses an extensive range of issues that all have an impact on the health and well-being of our passengers.”

The Shopper Services are for people living in Kensington & Chelsea and Westminster, who struggle to carry the weekly shop. As a member, you can choose which day you want to do your shopping. We visit a few different larger supermarkets and aside from the obvious benefit of helping you source low-cost, affordable, healthy and fresh food, this service offers the equally important advantage of meeting people in your local community. Weekly shopping runs soon turn into friendships, and it becomes more than just a shopping trip, it becomes a social outing. People often meet for a coffee, have a chat and look out for each other, creating a sense of belonging.

Run in two accessible minibuses on weekdays the Shopper Services and have a set timetable. Users can get their weekly shop without the hassle of trying to juggle bags while getting on and off public transport. “Positive feedback has revealed that many of our users get to know people living close to them by using the Shopper Service. It’s not unusual for friendships to form on our minibuses and some of our clients have said it’s the only time they have to be social” says Tracey Heap, Communications and Marketing Manager.

Feedback from users of the Shopper Service is overwhelmingly positive, demonstrating an enhancement of quality of people’s lives through the provision of something quite simple but yet fundamental. Access to fresh and healthy food has distinct and quantifiable benefits, but the benefits of helping people to stay connected in their later years are possibly far more significant.

Mobility Scooters are available to members living in Kensington & Chelsea or Westminster who can’t walk far. Scooters can be collected from the Westway CT offices in Acklam Road; there are also Scooters available at Holland Park Park’s Office. We can also deliver Scooters to your home, but there is a fee for this.

Most members use Scooters to get some much needed fresh air, do a bit of shopping and meet with friends or even attend group activities. It’s entirely up to you. The idea is that the Scooters offer members the chance to do things independently and make their lives more comfortable and more fulfilling.

A combination of using Volunteer Cars, Shopper Services and Mobility Scooters undoubtedly have a significant impact on people’s health and happiness. “It’s a well-known fact,” says Anna, “that when you stop being connected to people, your well-being suffers. It’s proven beyond doubt that being socially connected can help, and that is what community transport does: it connects people.”

If you or someone you know would like to find out more about the Westway CT’s Services for Individuals, feel free to get in touch. We would love to hear from you. Call 020 8964 1114 weekdays between 1pm – 4pm.

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