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March 21, 2018

Our Learning from the Cara Project

The Cara project engaged with older people of Irish heritage to reconnect them to each other and to their Irish roots. Time to Shine’s local evaluator, Care Connect, looked at the project in-depth by analysing quantitative data, running face-to-face interviews and focus groups, and reviewing individual case studies. 

What they found offers great insight about the causes of social isolation for this population, and what can be done about it. 

Some of the key findings:

1. Cara members were some of the most isolated people to participate in Time to Shine, with nearly 25% reporting that they spoke to people in their local area once a month or less. 

2. The cause of social isolation is multi-faceted. As project worker Sara Allkins was fond of saying: “There’s no such thing as social isolation light.” People who have become isolated are likely to be facing complex issues such as poor health or poverty. 

3. A two-tier approach of persistent one-to-one support plus availability of group activities was the most effective in reducing people’s isolation. 

It is really difficult to get through to somebody but you have to keep trying… You have to get to know them, and know what will be suitable for them, take it from there; it is a slow process.”  — Cara Volunteer

Read Care Connect’s full report on the Cara Project here.