CAN Connect: From collaboration to success

Two people gardening together.

We spoke with Hub member Julie Gibson on how CAN Connect’s team of Life Connectors and volunteers are helping people to get involved in their local community. 

Two people gardening together.

Introducing CAN Connect

Sometimes, we could all do with a little bit of support to help make life click. Here at CAN Connect, our aim is to connect people across the North Norfolk and Breckland District areas who may be lonely or isolated with individuals and activities in their community.

We provide people with one to one support to help them achieve their goals and also work with communities to make the places we live stronger, friendlier and more resilient.

Why we do what we do

We know that loneliness can affect anyone at any age, but it does help to remember that people who are more likely to be lonely are not definitively lonely – but they could be at risk. It is not a default setting.

Conversely, there may be others who do not fit the profile but who are lonely, and they are particularly difficult to identify. Whilst some geographic areas are more critical than others, there are lonely people everywhere, even amongst the wealthier, healthier communities.

ONS data for England (Oct 2020 to Feb 2021) shows 7.3% of adults (16+) often or always feel lonely, with areas that have a higher proportion of young people and areas that have higher levels of unemployment generally having increased loneliness rates. An estimated 9,000 people (7.7%) in Breckland and 7,700  people (8.5%) in North Norfolk alone say they feel lonely often or always.

Social isolation and loneliness is a real issue for the people of Norfolk, but thanks to the excellent work being done by a team of dedicated staff at CAN Connect, we have seen an improvement in both the mental and physical health, and the wellbeing of clients. The service has proved invaluable for many clients, and we are proud to share a heart-warming story of success with you below.

The impact of CAN Connect

A client was referred to the team struggling with both physical and mental health conditions. They lived alone and were feeling increasingly isolated. Sadly, their family lived outside of the area, and they were finding it difficult to get out into the community.

The CAN Connect team liaised with the client to get a better understanding of their needs and arranged support from a local volunteer. Safeguarding training was provided to the volunteer and they were introduced to the client.

Understandably, it took time to build confidence and trust, but with regular visits the client’s confidence increased, and they accessed local community groups and learned basic computer skills. The volunteer visited regularly, and the relationship grew from strength to strength.

It was these regular visits which set alarm bells ringing when the volunteer noticed parcels on the client’s doorstep. The client was not answering the door and from this the volunteer swiftly called one of the Life Connectors for advice.

Given the complexity of the client’s mental health diagnosis they called the police. The mental health team were also informed. Subsequently the client was referred to hospital and the team involved was informed that the client was ok and responding well to treatment. Subsequently, the team received a note of thanks from the client saying: “I have benefitted so much from the service and my volunteer, and I am very grateful for the support to access the community.”

The service has grown from strength to strength, and this could not have been achieved without the help of our Life Connectors and Volunteers to who we are eternally grateful.


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