Friends and neighbours

6 November 2018 | Scotland

Craigshill

Local network is building bonds and fighting loneliness.

Craigshill Good Neighbourhood Network has a simple ethos. "We want to bring people together, any age, any walk of life,” said manager Jane Deary, 47.

The organisation, in West Lothian, aims to combat loneliness in the community and knows isolation can strike anyone. So they encourage all sections of their community in Craigshill to get involved. They offer a wide range of workshops and activities, from crafty things such as knitting to practical help.

And the effects can be seen by everyone - friends have found each other to go on holiday with, have Christmas dinner together and two people even found love.

"We have everything from a knitting group, to a singing group, a photography group,” said Jane.

"We had a DJ come and show people how to hold their own club night.

"We also get people then bringing their families to the club, so young people can end up knitting.

"It's nice to see things mixed up."

When Jane started managing the centre, which has been chosen as a TSB Local Charity Partner by the bank’s Livingston branch, they had 26 members. Five years on, that number has grown to 160 people who come on a weekly basis.

Jane added: "We must be doing something right!"

Jane says it's so important to tackle isolation in the community because it can have profound effects on a person's health.

She said: "We asked people who attended the centre what they'd be doing otherwise, and the main answer was watching TV or even going out to the shops just to wander about.

"People make friends here, we've got some people who would be on their own for Christmas who are now having it with others.

"Some people are going on holiday together.

"Even just seeing someone they know when they go to the shop - it all helps.

"We want to launch an initiative on how important it is just to stop and say hello to people.

"For some, that hello could be all they hear all day."

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