We are excited to announce that the first phase of The Cornwall & Isles of Scilly Link is live. We have been working closely with Age UK Cornwall & Isles of Scilly to create an online service that connects older people with advice, local support and social activities. The aim is to reduce social isolation and improve health and wellbeing.
Research shows that having social connections is the key to experiencing a good later life. For some people this is about having an active social life with opportunities to engage in their local community or pursue hobbies and interests.
Across Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly there are literally thousands of community based activities (often run by volunteers) that can help to reduce social isolation and improve health and wellbeing. In addition, there are hundreds of organisations offering important health and care support services. But, if you are someone needing support or a carer worried about loved one, where do you start looking? Who can help you find information and activities that are relevant to your needs, interests and location?
The Cornwall Link is a new online hub where people can find information on a wide range of services, community groups and social activities in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly. Age UK Cornwall & Isles of Scilly aim to provide individuals, families, carers, volunteers and healthcare professionals with access to services and community based activities that will reduce social isolation and improve health and wellbeing.
Working with the charity, we designed the service in collaboration with staff, volunteers, clients, GP’s and their supporting partners, including: Cornwall Neighbourhoods for Change, NHS Kernow, Cornwall Rural Community Charity and the Eden project.
The Cornwall Link compliments the successful Age UK Cornwall telephone Helpline service. Individuals in Cornwall & The Isles of Scilly now have access to a 24/7 directory that can connect them intelligently to a wide menu of activities, groups and services. Below are some of the smart features that The Cornwall Link can offer:
Intelligent filters that refine your search by location, support needs, interests or health conditions;
The chance to create and save a “favourites” list – like a social prescription, which is shareable and printable for any need;
The ability to submit or create activities, groups and support services that might be useful to your community;
Access a host of volunteering options, enabling community groups to post volunteering opportunities;
Search the community link directory for a range of support services and social activities;
Stories and shared knowledge from others in the community;
Host beautiful images and videos; making searching for things a much more friendly and personalised experience.
A hub for social connection and community exchange
Not only is this service an ideal tool for Age UK Cornwall, it also has great benefits for GPs, receptionists, health professionals and volunteers in the community. The vision for Cornwall Link is to become a hub for social connection and community exchange. A place where people from across Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly can find what they need in the community, or offer help and support to others.
Our next step for the digital service is to enhance the ‘Not sure what you need’ form, currently linking through to the Helpline, into an intelligent online function. It will be able to, with the facilitative support of a link worker, digitally guide someone through a holistic conversation. Based on answers to this, easy-to-use, online questionnaire, the platform will be able to generate suggestions of appropriate social activities and support.
A vision for the future
Digital solutions are a key topic in conversations around health and wellbeing, holding the potential to provide sustainable answers to those who need support. These are just some of the ideas we have for future development of the Cornwall & Isles of Scilly Link:
Skills / Community Exchange: Working on the principle that everybody has something to offer and every community has a need.
Transport Mapping: An interactive map outlining transport availability and where to find it.
Corporate networking: Connecting businesses and the communities they serve. Supporting local groups through sponsorship and/or donations of money, time or equipment.
To bring the whole programme together Age UK Cornwall envisage a network of Navigator roles to support access for even the least tech-savvy members of the population and maintain that all-important human aspect.