Faithfully Ageing Better is a partnership between Together Middlesbrough & Cleveland and Ageing Better Middlesbrough, a 6-year Big Lottery funded programme that aims to reduce loneliness and isolation for people aged 50 and over in Middlesbrough.  The Faithfully Ageing Better project was created in recognition of the great work churches do providing support and care to older people who are isolated, particularly in times of loss, bereavement and ill-health.  The project aims to identify, celebrate, and help to develop this work to continue to serve the spiritual and practical needs of the older community. 

In the early stages of the project, a survey was conducted to find out exactly what churches in Middlesbrough are already doing to help support older people.  You can read about the results of the survey in our report here.

In November 2017 a Faithfully Ageing Better event was held at the Trinity Centre to celebrate the great work churches are doing, share the results of the survey, and to identify how we could develop what churches are doing for older people in their community. The main areas of development identified were places of hospitality and welcome, bereavement support, and opportunities to bring generations together.

A Warm Welcome

A working group has been formed to develop a network of all the places of hospitality and welcome provided by churches in Middlesbrough.  This network will be called ‘A Warm Welcome’ and will help churches promote their lunch clubs, drop-ins and coffee mornings, as well as allowing people to more easily find their local Warm Welcome hub.  If you would like to know more, please contact Maddy Fisher by email: [email protected], or by phone 07532 744924.

GraveTalk

Another outcome of the Faithfully Ageing Better event was that it was decided that churches would develop their bereavement support though a resource called GraveTalk, originally developed by the Church of England.  GraveTalk provides an opportunity to talk about death, life and funerals in a safe, café-style space.  There will be several GraveTalk sessions run at different times and locations across Middlesbrough in 2018.  Click here if you would like to know more about GraveTalk.  If you want to know more about where and when your nearest GraveTalk session is happening, contact Maddy Fisher by email: [email protected], or by phone 07532 744924.

Bringing Generations Together

At the end of 2017, Ageing Better Middlesbrough helped us to create a small grants fund for churches and associated groups in Middlesbrough to enable them to create more opportunities to bring generations together. We asked groups to bid for up to £500 each to plan an activity or trip that brings different generations together and allows older people to share their knowledge, skills and experience with others.

We have been able to fund 8 trips and events run by churches and groups involved in Feast of Fun.  You can read about them here

Research and Resources about Loneliness and Isolation

Loneliness has been described as A Silent Epidemic in our communities. Church Urban Fund has produced two reports about the role of churches in reducing isolation and loneliness, and promoting people’s well-being and flourishing.

Connecting Communities  The report provides a summary of best practice for churches who are responding to the issue of loneliness and shows that churches are uniquely well placed to carry out the types of activities that have been proven to be most effective in reducing loneliness.

Let’s Get Together This piece of research looks at how the social connections that we have impact health and well-being. The findings reinforce the significance of inter-personal relationships for people’s well-being and flourishing, and points to the importance of churches and other groups continuing to provide opportunities for people to connect with others, and to create spaces where people can feel that they belong.