Harborough becomes the first ‘Compassionate Town’ in the East Midlands due to its fantastic community spirit

The award recognises the selfless role people have each in supporting one another during the pandemic

Wednesday, 21st April 2021, 9:36 am
Updated Wednesday, 21st April 2021, 9:38 am
Market Harborough has become the first ‘Compassionate Town’ in the East Midlands due to its fantastic community spirit

Market Harborough is often hailed as one of the best places to live in the UK.

Now the attractive historic market town is set to achieve another accolade as it becomes the first ‘Compassionate Town’ in the East Midlands.

LOROS Hospice is working with Market Harborough and the Bowdens Charity to showcase the fantastic community spirit built up throughout the Covid-19 pandemic.

Alison Knight, a compassionate neighbour at LOROS.

The charity, which cares for over 2,500 people across Leicestershire and Rutland every year, is setting up a ‘Compassionate Community’ in Market Harborough.

A ‘Compassionate Community’ recognises the selfless role people have each in supporting one another.

And it reinforces the outstanding work of professional healthcare services to support those who are seriously ill, ageing, acting as caregivers or experiencing loss.

They have been successfully set up in Plymouth and Frome in Somerset as well as elsewhere.

John Feavyour, chairman of the Market Harborough and the Bowdens Charity, said: “We are delighted to support the LOROS Compassionate Community scheme.

“We have been talking to LOROS for some time about how we can make their work more accessible in Market Harborough.

“This initiative will build on the support we have given for other mental health projects and comes at a time when loneliness is a huge problem in our society.”

LOROS will be offering free training to people to create a network of ‘Compassionate Friends’ and ‘Compassionate Neighbours’ in a bid to tackle isolation and loneliness head on.

Training sessions will teach volunteers useful communication and body language skills to help them handle tricky conversations.

They will also give them the confidence and tools needed to help others in everyday life.

Danielle Smeeton, community volunteer visiting services manager at LOROS, said: “At LOROS, we’re often told it’s the small things that make the biggest difference, especially during periods of crisis. “Covid-19 has made the past year particularly difficult - with many of us cut off from the people and places that would normally provide support.

“It’s become more important than ever for us to come together as a community.”

She added: “Market Harborough have already done extremely well with this.

“We hope that the Compassionate Communities project get people thinking about more simple ways they can be there for one another, whether in times of crisis or just in everyday life.”

Compassionate Friends will pledge to look out for their neighbours and local people.

They will do that by picking up the shopping, a prescription or even the phone - and by simply checking in on people who may be vulnerable.

Compassionate Neighbours will go a step further, providing support to end-of-life patients and their families for a few hours each week.

These volunteers will play a vital role in enhancing the lives of those with limited mobility or social interaction, whilst enabling carers to have a precious few hours of respite each week.

Retired BBC Leicester Presenter Monica Winfield lives in Market Harborough and has been volunteering as a Compassionate Neighbour at LOROS for two years.

“As a Compassionate Neighbour, I have sat and listened to music, talked about horses, had guided tours of lovely gardens and spent time with people who have received the hardest diagnosis of all.

“Our town regularly appears in those popular, ‘best places to live’ lists,” said Monica.

“And I know that the Compassionate Communities scheme will build on the wonderful spirit we have here in Market Harborough.”

If you would like to hear more about the Compassionate Communities project, or are interested in joining a training session, please visit https://www.loros.co.uk/compassionatecommunities/