A new way to tackle isolation

GoodGym is adapting to tackle the increase of isolation and loneliness in a post-pandemic world.

May 22, 2022

Have your own GoodGym story to share with the community? Email getinvolved@goodgym.org and we'll be in touch.

Many of us have become more isolated during the pandemic and when it comes to older people, many are feeling lonelier than ever. GoodGym has now launched the new social visit pilot to face up to this increasing issue. This new style of social visit will make it easier for members to sign up and will enable GoodGym to support significantly more older people.

Age UK Reports:

  • The number of over-50s experiencing loneliness is set to reach two million by 2025/6. This compares to around 1.4 million in 2016/7 – a 49% increase
  • Half a million older people go at least five or six days a week without seeing or speaking to anyone at all
  • Two fifths all older people (about 3.9 million) say the television is their main company


Making a difference

GoodGym has a wealth of experience of supporting older people with social contact through forming coach pairings, so called because an older person is the coach motivating a member to get out and exercise. We are now building on this experience and using our sector leading mission referral system to organise social visits. These will be listed as missions, so that any checked and trained member can sign up for an agreed time slot and visit the older person for a chat. This approach will enable many more GoodGym members to pop round and brighten the day for an older person.

When asked about GoodGym and our work with older people, Adam, a referrer from Brentford and Isleworth Primary Care Network says “With your kindness and hard work, you are making the world a better place for people who need it the most!”

The pilot begins

Linda Cairns, Head of Operations for GoodGym, explains. “The GoodGym mission system has really established itself during the pandemic enabling GoodGymers to support lots of older and vulnerable people with practical tasks. Since March 2020, we have handled 16,612 mission requests to provide support for older people. It is because the mission referral system has proven scalability and is familiar to our trusted referring charity partners that we are now extending this system to offer social support. We will start by running pilots in four GoodGym areas to test out the practical logistics. These areas are Kingston-Upon Thames, Lewisham, Southwark, and Windsor and Maidenhead. We hope to be able to roll out social visits more widely once we've learned from the pilot.”

Mandy from Notting Hill Genesis Housing Association says "I am really excited about the new initiative, it sounds like a great way to connect socially isolated residents with volunteers." Mandy from Notting Hill Genesis Housing Association

What is happening to coach runs?
At the start of the pandemic, we had to stop forming new coach pairings because of the risk of infection. Of course we still have members who are regularly visiting their older person and the GoodGym central team is continuing to monitor and provide the operational support for these relationships.

How can GoodGymers get involved in social visits?
We are making it as quick and easy as possible to get involved whilst including the steps to safeguard both the older person and the GoodGym member. Members need to take a DBS check and do some short online training and then they can start signing up for social visits. We will be contacting everyone in our pilot areas with all the information they need. Referrers will be able to request a block of 6 visits and GoodGymers will be able to sign up to these one at a time. Members will be able to support the same beneficiary or choose to visit different older people.

We hope to be able to roll out social visits more widely once we've learned from the pilot.

How can people make a request for social support?
As with all requests for support for older people, we will only be taking referrals from organisations that work with older people, such as charities (e.g. AgeUK or British Red Cross), local council teams, NHS teams, or other health, housing and social care teams.

More questions?
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Have your own GoodGym story to share with the community? Email getinvolved@goodgym.org and we'll be in touch.
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