A booklet has been published by a CLAHRC NWC-backed community project to highlight the issue of social isolation. Over the last year a number of residents in Haslingden, Rising Bridge and Acre have come together with university researchers and community organisations on a project investigating how friends and neighbours connect with each other, as part of the CLAHRC NWCs Neighbourhood Resilience Programme.
The findings of this work have been published in a 24-page graphic art booklet called ‘What’s your story?’ - illustrated by artist Len Grant.
The booklet contains interviews with residents who give their experiences of loneliness and directs people to community groups and organisations that can help alleviate the problem.
A poster showcasing the booklet is on display at Haslingden Community Link and it is also available online.
Emma Harding, from Haslingden Community Link, said: “It was exciting to have residents around the table participating fully in producing the artwork and being able to make their voices heard to bring about change.”
Those participating, known as ‘Resident Advisors’, were questioned about their experiences of living in Haslingden and nearby.
Some said they felt isolated and lonely - particularly those from smaller communities like Rising Bridge and Acre - and discussed problems like obesity and unemployment in the Valley.
Several of those interviewed said poor public transport and having no internet access were also causes of social isolation. Many others spoke positively about where they lived and the community groups that support the town.
Dawn Vear, from Haslingden, who participated in the project said: “Social isolation is a big issue facing our community and it is often difficult for people to talk about it - I want to be a part of changing that.”
The goal of the project was to find out whether isolation affected the health and wellbeing of those living in the area. Lisa Bloor, who was also a resident advisor, said: “I felt it was important to highlight the issues facing our communities and work together to improve things for others.”
Haslingden MP Graham Jones said: “Communities are important, but we have undervalued them. This booklet represents something that we have lost in the chase for individualism and isolation.”
The launch of the booklet also featured in the Rossendale Free Press