John's Story: Community Navigators

About the project:

The Bristol Community Navigators are a project that fits under BAB’s ‘Identifying and Informing’ theme for combatting loneliness and social isolation in older people.

The Community Navigators is a service that informs isolated and lonely older people of community activities and services by providing them with information, signposting and introductions to range of local services, through one-to-one-support as well as outreach sessions.


A participant’s story:

John was born and raised in Bristol. He has always been active. Long walks, boxing, swimming and fishing were regular activities for John throughout his life. Fishing, in particular, is an activity that holds fond memories for John. Now in his 60s, he fondly remembers the days when he and his father would walk for miles to go fishing, and bring their catches home for supper.

Coming from a large family, John spent most of his life working with and surrounded by large amounts of people. This was why, following his daughter’s move away from home this past May, experiencing loneliness hit him especially hard. John was suddenly living alone, and often found himself sitting in front of the television for long periods of time. There were few visitors, and the only time he really saw anyone was when they happened to walk across his window. John’s mood could only worsen when his health problems made it difficult for him to continue to go fishing, or even walk to the local supermarket. For someone who had always been active, this was a particularly tough realisation.

With increasing time spent sat in front of the television, John understood that his health was deteriorating, and that this isolation was dangerous. So, realising that he needed to combat the isolation somehow, John found a part-time job. Unfortunately, it was not enough to fully combat the loneliness, isolation and low mood.

This was a difficult point in John’s life.

It was during this time that John’s doctor referred him to the Bristol Community Navigators.

John says he “hasn’t looked back since”.

During his first meeting with the navigator, John discussed his love of fishing (and all things outdoors). The navigator, Jeannie, listened to him, and soon, had signposted John to a fishing group for adults and children with physical disabilities and learning difficulties. This group has helped John immensely. He is now able to drive as close as necessary to his fishing spot, unlike before, when he was forced to walk the lengthy distance. John fishes with the group every other day of the week, and often doesn’t return home until supper time.

“If it weren’t for the navigators,” John says, “this wouldn’t have happened.”

He has also began to volunteer with the group, helping others with greater mobility needs, as well as the children, to fish. He is helping the group organisers to plan trip to the beach, so that the group can begin to safely fish on the beach.

A lover of all thing involving the outdoors, John will also be involved in an outdoor ‘survival course’, designed to teach children with learning difficulties wilderness survival tips. With his knowledge gained from his years as a serviceman, John is looking forward to sharing his knowledge, and gaining some in return.

“I’m pleased the doctor referred me to you.” John said. “Without Jeannie, I don’t know where I’d be. I got that confidence back.”

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