Mindful Connections is a new project aiming to help Hackney residents, aged 50 and above, who struggle to see friends or family and attend social groups or activities. By supporting people as they join in with activities, connect up with other organisations and engage better in local services, we hope to increase their confidence, independence and reduce their social isolation.

Factors such as being divorced, widowed or retired, along with the physical impairments and neurobiological changes related to aging, dramatically increase the potential of isolation and loneliness.

Shane Collings, Psychotherapist - City and Hackney Mind and One Hackney

Mindful Connections volunteers are available to meet wherever a person feels comfortable, for example in their home, a park or local café. After initially getting to know each other, together they can explore which organisations and activities are available and are of interest. Any issues which could put someone off attending, like negotiating public transport, can be discussed and hopefully resolved and, if desired, our volunteers could even attend an initial group or meeting together.

Our volunteers have received extensive training and undergone an eight week mindfulness course so as to improve their own general wellbeing and give them tools so as to help those they meet.

Niyi Onilude, a Mindful Connections Volunteer stated:

I have learnt so much about myself, I have increased self-awareness and understanding especially around issues regarding my mental and emotional wellbeing. I am looking forward to engaging with the community.

Mindful Connections is a Connect Hackney project and part of City and Hackney Mind’s overall aim to improve specialist services to older people and other under-served groups in Hackney. Connect Hackney, managed by Hackney CVS, won a five-year funding package of £5.8m from the Big Lottery Fund's Ageing Better programme. Hundreds of Hackney's older residents voted on which projects to fund with the first portion of Big Lottery Fund money and City and Hackney Mind were one of the twenty one who were successful. These projects offer older people in Hackney a chance to meet new people, socialise, have a chat and try out everything from "mindfulness" meditation and massage to hen-keeping or digital media training. Connect Hackney are also campaigning against ageism, ensuring older people's voices are heard and respected.

If you or someone you know would like to meet with a Mindful Connections volunteer then please call our referral line on 0208 525 2301, or email mindfulconnections@cityandhackneymind.org.uk