Great Get Together in Norfolk libraries, to help tackle loneliness and social isolation

15 June 2018

More than twenty of Norfolk County Council's libraries are hosting ‘In Good Company’ events and activities from 21 to 23 June as part of the national Great Get Together project.

Since Norfolk County Council launched its In Good Company campaign to tackle loneliness in the county, the library service has more than doubled the number of events it runs which are suitable for people who may be experiencing loneliness or social isolation.

It’s an approach which earlier this year drew the praise of Arts Council England which highlighted the way it was helping to build community cohesion and promote positive ways that people can connect with their neighbours – recognised nationally as the most important way of tackling loneliness and social isolation.

Jan Holden, Head of Libraries and Information, said: “From afternoon teas, knit and natter and board games to colour me calm sessions and book groups, our regular programme of events encourages people to enjoy the company of others whilst taking part in a fun activity or simply chatting over a cuppa. 

“For the Great Get Together weekend, we’ve incorporated some extra events into our programme, including Open Gardens at Blofield, Making Music Day at Aylsham, and a sing along and invitation to write a letter to an isolated person at Hunstanton.  We hope lots of people will come along and join – it’s a great way to connect with people and make new friends.”

The first Great Get Together took place last year.  It was the idea of the friends and family of murdered MP, Jo Cox, to mark the first anniversary of her death.  The event aims to bring friends, neighbours and communities together to celebrate everything they have in common.

Councillor Margaret Dewsbury, Chairman of Norfolk County Council’s Communities Committee, said: “Loneliness is a major national issue and we know that it affects people of all ages.  Research has shown that loneliness can be as harmful as smoking 15 cigarettes a day and is associated with depression, high blood pressure and dementia.

“We are leading the way with our In Good Company campaign and recently announced £2.4m funding to tackle loneliness in the county.  Over the next three years we’ll be working with partner organisations* to develop new and innovative ways of improving the health and wellbeing of people affected by loneliness and social isolation in our communities.

“It’s great to see our libraries taking part in the Great Get Together again this year and offering such a varied range of events and activities to help to ensure that no one needs to spend a lonely day in Norfolk if they don’t want to.”

For more information about how you can get involved with In Good Company, visit www.norfolk.gov.uk/ingoodcompany

For events and activities in Norfolk County Council's libraries visit www.norfolk.gov.uk/libraries

For more information about the Great Get Together visit www.greatgettogether.org

  • The Council’s In Good Company campaign won two CIPR Pride Awards in 2017 – including Gold for best regional public sector campaign.  It was also highlighted in a report by the Jo Cox Foundation as an example of best practice in tackling loneliness. The campaign has also been picked as an example of an innovative way of tackling a national problem and asked to present the campaign to other councils at the Local Government Association conference this year.
  • Norfolk’s pioneering library project to tackle community isolation, which is part of the County Council’s In Good Company campaign was chosen by the Arts Council England to be included in its Stand By Me Report earlier this year.
  • Norfolk County Council has awarded funding to Community Action Norfolk, the Borough Council of King’s Lynn and West Norfolk and Voluntary Norfolk to develop and deliver new ways of tackling loneliness in the county.

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