Council leaders are set to agree multi-million pound funding to continue and expand the work of the city’s highly acclaimed Neighbourhood Networks.
Proposals for extra funding for the Neighbourhood Networks are being discussed at Leeds City Council’s executive board tomorrow, 20 September, following in-depth evaluation of the work they do.
The Neighbourhood Networks focus on reducing social isolation and improving the health and wellbeing of people across the city. Planned and managed by older people and other community stakeholders, they were developed in the 1980s as a response to the growing numbers of older people in Leeds and the need to focus on preventing illness and isolation and promoting health, wellbeing and independence.
Examples of services provided by the Networks include befriending, luncheon clubs, digital skills and exercise sessions, as well as home-based and one-to-one support, as well as being a gateway to other services.
Cllr Rebecca Charlwood, executive member for health, wellbeing and adults, said:
“Leeds Neighbourhood Networks continue to play an important preventative role in the city, making a real difference to the lives of people who use the service. Our Networks are recognised nationally and internationally as examples of good practice, highlighting the significant impact key services can make in tackling inequality and improving the lives thousands of people in the city.
“I am delighted that we have guaranteed funding for the Neighbourhood Networks in Leeds. We aim to invest more than £500,000 per year extra, increasing the funding from Leeds City Council to over £3 million a year. This is a clear commitment from the council, recognising the significant value the Networks bring to communities across the city.”
Cath Roff, Director of Adults and Health services for Leeds City Council, said:
“This is great news and with over 25,000 older people being in contact with the Neighbourhood Networks, supported by more than 2,000 volunteers, they provide greater opportunities for older people to be involved in their communities; tackling social isolation and contributing to improved health and wellbeing. Provided alongside support such as advice, guidance and signposting, the Networks give older people a real voice in the way services are delivered in their community.
“Evaluation has also shown that the Neighbourhood Networks reduce pressure on other statutory services, freeing up health and well-being resources and so acting as an ‘investment to save’ that is being re-invested in social care services.”
Lee Ingham, General Manager of Bramley Elderly Action and Older Wiser Local Seniors, said:
“The proposal to continue Leeds City Council investment in Neighbourhood Network services is fantastic news for older people in Leeds. It has allowed schemes like Bramley Elderly Action and Older Wiser Local Seniors to improve lives, reduce loneliness and deliver valuable help in local communities. Leeds should be proud of this excellent way of enabling people to make the most of community assets and to help Leeds be the best city in which to grow old.”
All of the Neighbourhood Network schemes are governed by local people representing the communities they serve. They provide direction and input which helps ensure the best outcomes that local older people want to achieve are delivered.
The total value of the proposals contained within this report is £15 million over the initial five years, with an additional £565,000 coming in the next three years from extra funds for Adult Social Care outlined in the 2017 Spring Budget.