Leeds charity's campaign to reduce lockdown-induced loneliness during Covid-19 pandemic

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A charity in north Leeds has launched a campaign to combat lockdown-induced loneliness and anxiety during the Covid-19 pandemic.

InterACT - a church and community partnership based in Meanwood and Chapel Allerton - has launched 'Twenty-minute Timeout' initiative, to encourage people to take 20 minutes out of their day or week for a socially-distanced catch-up with a friend or neighbour.

It coincides with the official end of the shielding period on August 1 but organisers say it has been designed in response to the impact lockdown has had on people of all ages and circumstances.

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Project manager Vanessa Brown at InterACT, which has also been managing the Moortown ward's Covid-19 volunteering scheme, said: "We’ve seen first-hand the impact that lockdown has had on people’s mental health.

Vanessa Brown, InterACT project manager, left, and Lisa Farrell, volunteer, with posters for their campaign Twenty-minute Timeout.Vanessa Brown, InterACT project manager, left, and Lisa Farrell, volunteer, with posters for their campaign Twenty-minute Timeout.
Vanessa Brown, InterACT project manager, left, and Lisa Farrell, volunteer, with posters for their campaign Twenty-minute Timeout.

"Shielding has of course had a serious impact on social isolation and loneliness, but lockdown has affected everyone – from parents that have had to home-school children, to people that have been furloughed.

"Lockdown may be easing, but we know many people are still feeling anxious about the idea of socialising and meeting people.

“This campaign aims to remind people that they’re not alone, by gently encouraging them to meet up with friends and neighbours in a socially distanced way – even if it’s just for 20 minutes.”

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The ‘Twenty-Minute Timeout’ concept was created by one of their volunteers, Lisa Farrell.

Lisa, who lives in Far Headingley, said: “I signed up to be a volunteer because I wanted to support people who were struggling in these challenging times. I’ve been shopping for someone who’s been isolating throughout lockdown, but I was also keen to use my skills to support the wider community. I manage marketing campaigns as part of my day job, so I contacted Vanessa to offer my support for any campaigns that they might want to run to support the community.”

“I was delighted when Vanessa invited me to work on a campaign that would combat post-lockdown anxiety and encourage people to meet up with others. It’s given me a real sense of purpose and it’s been great. I’ve been able to use my skills in a positive way that will hopefully support people in a gradual return to normality.”

The campaign has been funded by Moortown and Meanwood ward councillors Mohammed Shahzad, Sharon Hamilton, and Rebecca Charlwood, as well as the Government’s Coronavirus Support Fund, which has been distributed by the National Lottery Community Fund.

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Councillor Shazhad said: “We are pleased to support this local initiative to build confidence and create interaction amongst neighbours. We would also like to thank all the volunteers who have given their time and skills during these unprecedented times to volunteer for InterACT to make sure the most vulnerable were taken care of and such initiatives as these can also take place.”

Visit www.interact.uk.net/twentyminutetimeout to download your Twenty-Minute Timeout pack and get involved. We can all spare 20 minutes, and those 20 minutes could make all the difference to you and someone else.

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Thank you

Laura Collins