Calderdale's community spirit shines through again as campaign encourages us to look out for our neighbours

June and Chris Harvey of the Memory Lane Cafe in Sowerby Bridge
June and Chris Harvey of the Memory Lane Cafe in Sowerby Bridge

Calderdale's sense of community spirit has shone through after a campaign to combat loneliness inspired people to look out for those around them.

The ‘Looking out for our neighbours’ campaign, commissioned by West Yorkshire and Harrogate Health and Care Partnership, has included the distribution of ‘helpful neighbour packs’ across Calderdale that includes a range of different resources to help residents take simple, positive action to look out for a neighbour in need.

Chris Harvey, Secretary at the Memory Lane Café in Sowerby Bridge, which is a dementia friendly cafe there to support those living with memory loss as well as their family, friends and carers, is a supporter of the campaign.

“Looking out for our neighbours’ is a great idea. What I think is really good about the campaign is the way it shows people that you don’t need to do big things to make big changes.

“It’s the small things, it’s talking to people and enquiring if they’re alright, offering to do a little bit of shopping. It’s that kind of thing, and that’s the kind of ethos we offer at Memory Lane Café.”

Another supporter, Stonewater Housing Association in Halifax shared how the campaign has been positively received by their residents: “This campaign has impacted on our work in a retirement living scheme and the residents who live there. Whilst there has always been a sense of community within the scheme, for the rest of the community nearby life carries on as normal. This campaign helped get the message out to the local community about being neighbourly and the launch event that we held at Copley Mill House in Halifax was attended by external neighbours outside of Stonewater housing. This really generated interest and increased the residents' sense of their own place within the community.”

The 'Looking out for our neighbours' campaign coincided with Mental Health Awareness Week, during which Calderdale Council have encouraged its staff to reflect on their own mental health.

Calderdale Council’s Director for Public Health, Paul Butcher, said: “Good mental health is a vital part of feeling well. Feeling well relates to a positive body and mind, helping people maintain strong relationships, be able to cope with life’s problems and get the most out of life. There is no need keep quiet about how you feel. It’s important to realise that help is available, whether you feel you are struggling or you are worried about someone you care about.

“This year’s Mental Health Awareness Week is focused on body image and just over a third of adults said they had felt anxious or depressed because of their body image concerns. Body image not only affects adults but also young people. It can also be a risk factor for mental health problems.

“If your body image is a significant cause of stress, talk to a friend, trusted adult or a health professional. The Council’s Better Living Service is also available for Calderdale residents, to provide expert help to support people to reach their goals and feel fitter, healthier and more confident. Visit https://www.calderdale.gov.uk/v2/residents/health-and-social-care/bls to find out what support it available.

“Of course if you are seriously concerned about your mental health or know someone who would benefit from support, it’s important to know that help is always available at whatever time of day. The Samaritans offer a free confidential service, 24 hours a day, on 116 123. People can also contact their local NHS trust, which is open 24 hours a day, and can be contacted on 01924 316830.”