Dudley’s Cheerleaders: how pom-poms can help combat loneliness

| Azad Sharma

The pom-pom: a symbol of cheer, acrobatics, dance? How might this symbol, usually associated with young-people and sport, become the unifier in local or national campaigns to help combat loneliness? 

Symbols are used to help raise awareness, badges, ribbons or slogans that spread through communities. These symbols capture the purpose and goodwill behind many campaigns around such issues or concerns. For instance, the pink ribbon has been instrumental for breast cancer. But how does the creation of the symbol help bring people together as well as raise awareness about an issue? 

We recently caught sight of a new symbol in a corner of the UK we’ve come to know very well over the last few years. There are many exciting things happening in Dudley at the minute and we’re really proud to have been involved in projects there, meeting local people and getting to know this part of the West Midlands. 

We enjoyed learning about a creative group of people during one of our projects. Dudley, like the rest of the UK, has a large number of older people in its population, many of whom can be lonely. The residents of Broadway Halls Care Home recently began knitting pom-poms together to raise awareness about loneliness. They’ve used the residential care setting of a care-home and residents going out to a community centre to make space for knitting. Local people pick up the pom-poms and take them around the town to keep the momentum required of any activity that aims to raise awareness. 

Loneliness and isolation is such a big part of people’s lives, especially with the elderly, and residents at our care home have told us they can understand and relate to this in a big way.

Broadway Halls Care Home, staff member.

You can now see all the photos of pom-poms for loneliness via a dedicated Facebook page. Also, the pom-poms gathered so much intrigue that it prompted a collaboration between Broadway Halls Care Home and Just Straight Talk, a community project supporting people by providing the practical help and motivation they need to turn their lives around and reach their life goals. The humble pom-pom has been transformed into a symbol that raises awareness about loneliness as well as encourages us to cheer for stronger and more connected communities.

Photo by Kelly Sikkema

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