Bringing the Dawn to isolation

Public Health officials have said social isolation is now a bigger threat than Covid. A North Hull community centre aims to tackle this locally.

On a mission to combat loneliness and isolation, Unity in Community has appointed an Outreach Project Officer. Dawn Downs is supporting local residents who’ve become too nervous to leave their homes.

Liam Woods, Project Manager at Unity in Community explains: “HU6 is a great place to live and work. Our community hub has been providing a valuable service to local residents for over 25 years – we know this Estate very well.

“However, visitor numbers have been down by over sixty per cent, compared to pre-pandemic levels; due to people suffering an illness, experiencing personal issues and those who became isolated during the pandemic.

“Whilst we encourage anyone who feels isolated to reach out for help, Dawn is able to make the approach if you are concerned about someone else – a relative, close friend or neighbour.”

Dawn Downs has been employed by Unity as an Outreach Project Officer to work around the Estate. Knocking on doors, she maintains a safe distance, whilst offering information about the free services at Unity in Community. Dawn explains:

“All of Unity’s services are free to access. This includes anything from; CV writing and job searches to coffee mornings, craft and fitness classes. In a nutshell, Unity has something for everyone and I can help people to meet others and try something new.

“Many local people are facing difficulty. Unity has capacity to help, we are even able to provide local residents with mobile devices, loaded with free data for six months. These tablets can be used for online training, to access services such as the NHS App, or apply for Universal Credit. Others can learn how to keep in touch using social media and even start their learning journey to improve job prospects.

“We are able to support people at every stage in life. Working-age people can feel more confident about finding meaningful work opportunities. Over 55s who’d like to join in with our activities and anyone else interested in trying our craft and fitness workshops, dance classes or coffee mornings.”

“At the moment I’m working with people who have been ill over the last couple years, others who are new to the area, as well as victims of domestic abuse. My involvement also means we can signpost those with children to access help for adapting to major change.”

Pat is a local resident who’s been retired for twenty years. She had always been very active and sociable. But after needing treatment for cancer, Pat had gone from being someone who used to swim three times per week and raising money for charity, to avoiding leaving house for more than two years. She explains:

“I’ve known the team at Unity for many years and when Dawn approached me to see if I’d like to visit a coffee morning, I was apprehensive as I wasn’t used to talking to people anymore. I’d completely lost my confidence. Dawn accompanied me and the others are all really friendly and welcoming.

“Unity provides a great distraction from my treatment. I’ve been visiting every week and feel much more confident. I even started going outside for short walks and feel happier about catching a bus again.

“I can recommend visiting Unity or any other community centre. They really bring you out of yourself, you can just have a coffee, you don’t have to join in with the activities if you’d rather not, but I always get a warm welcome and feel much better for getting out and about.”

For more information, please call Unity in Community on 01482 852292 or email