This week is Loneliness Awareness Week and offers a reminder of how the health projects run by Wolves Foundation are geared towards helping people join together and overcome any potential of isolation.
Encouraging participants to attend sessions and enjoy social interaction and support when needed is a theme which underpins Foundation initiatives for people of all ages in the community.
From Healthy Goals - open to toddlers of pre-school age which encourages parents to attend and develop good and healthy practice - to Wolves Elders, a club for over 55’s to meet weekly and enjoy a programme of activities, all ages are covered.
And then there is Molineux Memories, the project for individuals with dementia and their carers, where participants can meet people with similar interests in an enjoyable, social group atmosphere.
Loneliness Awareness Week is an annual campaign run by the Marmalade Trust to raise awareness of loneliness and get people talking about it.
The Trust, the UK’s leading loneliness charity for all ages, has the simple aim of reducing the stigma of loneliness and encouraging people to be more open.
A particularly significant Foundation project in terms of overcoming any fears and stigma around loneliness is the Head 4 Health initiative, which has been a major success since being launched over three years ago.
Head 4 Health offers a mixture of informational workshops and physical activity sessions and, above all, gives people the chance to share experiences and help and support each other.
“For a long time, I wasn’t getting out of bed most days, but these sessions have given me a reason to get up,” says Lee, one of the participants.
“We can have a laugh and a bit of banter but when it comes to people being serious and wanting to talk about themselves everyone is always respectful.
“You listen in and find that you are not alone, other people are feeling the same way, and that is a really powerful tool to have.”
Another participant John echoes that sentiment, adding: “Somebody opens up at Head 4 Health and you can relate to something they are going through that you are going through as well.
“Everyone is from different backgrounds and are different ages but it is amazing what we can learn from each other.”
Barbara says the group is also important in providing a reason to get together and meet up to share thoughts and feelings.
“It adds structure to your life and you know that you are going to see people at least once a week,” she explains.
“It’s a really nice group, and you can meet, have a laugh and make new friends.”
Goalkeeper John Ruddy, who is leaving Wolves after five years this summer, has been a keen supporter of Head 4 Health, attending different sessions and supporting participants.
“No matter what walk of life you are in, everyone finds themselves in situations that they don’t want to be in or are difficult at times,” says Ruddy.
“It’s good to know that there are people here to help and that’s why they go to Head 4 Health on a regular basis.
“I think with everything that went on with Covid for over two years or so, people have realised that they were isolated.
“So, to go to these sessions and open up and be with like-minded people who feel they are in the same situations is amazing for them.
“They can let off steam because they have found a social group that they can connect with and develop friendships.”
Rachel Smith, health & wellbeing manager with Wolves Foundation, added: “With all of our health projects we aim to be as inclusive as possible, being open to all in a friendly, welcoming and non-judgemental atmosphere.
“We know that some people who are experiencing loneliness or social isolation may find it difficult to attend our sessions, but this approach ensures we make it as easy as we can for them to take that first step and hopefully realise that both staff and other participants are here to help and make it a positive experience.”
*Participants are pictured enjoying a Head 4 Health ‘Walk & Talk’ session in West Park.