How co-ops can throw a lifeline to isolated people in tough winter weather

Plunkett Foundation’s #thelittlethings campaign highlights the work of community businesses and encourages people to help

The Plunkett Foundation is running a winter campaign, #thelittlethings, to show how co-ops are supporting people who are lonely or isolated during the darker months, and to encourage people to do more to help.

“Community co-operatives are already doing so much to support people who are isolated,” it says, “particularly when the snow comes down and icy roads make it difficult to get about.

“With many bus services being withdrawn in rural areas, community hubs become even more of a lifeline.”

As well as encouraging people to do more to help those who are struggling this winter, the campaign highlights the work community co-ops are doing.

This includes the home delivery of meals or groceries for the housebound. Barkers of Huby, which became a community co-operative in 2015, delivers to housebound residents in Huby and Sutton, while Ewelme Village Store in Oxfordshire also operates a home-delivery service in an area where the local bus service has been withdrawn.

At the community-owned MayBush Inn, Essex, volunteers will act as a taxi service, fetching community residents who are struggling to get around into the pub for social events.

Many of Plunkett’s organisations report that their volunteers notice when regular visitors don’t come in for a few days and will call in on a person’s home to check they are all right.

The campaign, funded by English Rural and the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation, wants co-ops and individuals to share stories of their efforts to help people suffering from loneliness.

It is also encouraging people to do more to help – for instance by volunteering with their local community co-op, taking them out for a drink, or calling someone on the phone.

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