Lancashire stars ask us all to be kind this winter and #BeAWinterFriend

Lancashire and South Cumbria NHS Foundation Trust (LSCft) and partners have launched a new campaign to beat loneliness and help those struggling with their mental health this winter. They’ve already won the backing of a few Lancashire celebrity friends including Comedian Steve Royle, finalist in this year’s Britain’s Got Talent, Rugby League star Josh Charnley and giant killing Chorley FC manager Jamie Vermiglio.

The campaign asks everyone to look out for someone else this winter, whether that’s family, friends, people in the community, vulnerable neighbours or anyone on the street who may need some support. It also asks everyone to share their stories using the hashtag #BeaWinterFriend to help continue to spread hope and generosity..

The idea of #BeaWinterFriend, came to LSCft Partnership and Development Team’s Kevin O’Hara one evening as he was thinking of all the people affected by the continuing Covid-19 pandemic as winter draws in.

“Knowing that the dark winter months were on the way and that many would suffer from the health costs of loneliness, I wanted to do something to help,” he said.

Kevin has worked on previous winter initiatives and knows that due to the lockdown and social restrictions brought about by Covid, people across Lancashire and South Cumbria could be at severe risk of being lonely and isolated. With support from colleagues from the Trust, the local Integrated Care System, friends and local celebrities, #BeaWinterFriend was developed.

Kevin added: “While we have to remain socially distant within these acts of kindness, that distance is all the more reason why it’s needed this winter more than ever.”

Josh Charnley, Jamie Vermiglio and Steve Royle, all from Lancashire, are keen to support the initiative and provided messages supporting the movement.

Steve Royle, self-proclaimed ‘Britain’s third most talented person (currently)’ offered a light hearted but meaningful message: “It’s a fabulous campaign, to help those who are isolated or lonely this Christmas.”

Josh Charnley, who plays for Warrington Wolves, says that mental health is close to his heart and this campaign is vital at this time of year: “2020 has been a mad year with the Covid-19 pandemic, so now is the time to be a Winter Friend. This means making sure the people you love and the people you might not know are okay. Check on them, ask if they need anything. I’m going to make sure my family and friends are okay.”

Jamie Vermiglio, whose team has brought joy to lots of people across Lancashire with their recent victories over Wigan Athletic and Peterborough United is now asking us all to offer a little hope to others: “We’re hoping our FA Cup experience has brought a little bit of light to everyone in what has been a very difficult year. So please spread a little bit of love, a little bit of happiness, give a bit of time…anything you want. Do your bit to make those around you happy and #BeaWinterFriend.”

Lancashire and South Cumbria NHS Foundation Trust (LSCft) and partners across the area recognise that there is a real need for everyone to act now to support people who are at risk of being lonely and socially isolated during this winter.

You could also make a big difference by simply sharing these tips for how to stay well with your friends, family or loved ones:

A - Ask for help - If you're struggling with your mental or physical health, ask for help from your GP or mental health services.

B - Blood pressure - Keep your blood pressure low to protect you from heart attacks and strokes.

C – Covid - Wash your hands regularly, wear your face mask and keep two metres space. Follow the rules and if you've got symptoms, get a test and self-isolate.

D - Diet - Eat a healthy diet – low sugar, low carbs, low salt, low alcohol. Eat lots of vegetables, more protein and vitamin B.

E – Exercise - Try and get out for a 20-minute walk every day, or do some high intensity training at home or even some chair-based exercises.

F - Have a flu jab - If you're entitled to a flu jab on the NHS, get it done to help you stay healthy and well this winter.

More tips and advice will be shared using the hashtag #BeaWinterFriend so please share all your supporting Initiatives and follow @BeAWinterFriend