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Prime Minister awards outstanding Frome pioneer

THE Prime Minister, Theresa May has recognised Frome doctor, Helen Kingston, for her exceptional voluntary work tackling loneliness.

Dr Helen Kingston is a pioneering GP who recognised the impact loneliness was having on the physical health of her patients and set up the ‘Compassionate Frome’ project in 2013 as a result.

In partnership with Frome Medical Practice and Health Connections Mendip, Helen has created a service directory of over 400 local care providers and volunteers to help people reconnect with their community. Services include helping with shopping and dog-walking, exercise classes and choir practice. Studies have not only shown a 17% drop in emergency admissions in the town, but also a fall in the cost of admissions by 21%. Helen is now working to introduce the model to other areas of Somerset and Wales.

Helen is the latest recipient of the Points of Light award, which recognises outstanding volunteers who are making a change in their community and inspiring others. Each day, someone, somewhere in the country is selected to receive the award to celebrate their remarkable achievements.

In a personal letter to Helen, Prime Minister Theresa May said. “By launching the Compassionate Frome project, you have created a successful and pioneering model that tackles the terrible impact of loneliness and reconnects people with local services. The fall in emergency admissions you have seen is a testament to your tremendous commitment to improving the health and wellbeing of the people in Frome.”

Tracey Crouch, Minister for Loneliness said, “I am delighted that Helen Kingston’s pioneering work in Frome to reconnect individuals with their community and tackle loneliness has been recognised by the Prime Minister with a Points of Light award. She is a truly deserving recipient.

Helen said, “Through a shared understanding of the importance of strong relationships and communities we have found a way to systematically help individuals to reconnect to their community and reestablish a sense of agency and belonging.

“I hope you will allow me to accept this on behalf of the fantastic team and community in Frome who have worked together and have achieved so much more than would have been possible as individual organisations.”

Regardless of whether it’s a doctor restoring local monuments in her free time, a father teaching young people life skills, or a local musician giving a voice to lonely people, the Points of Light award honours shining examples of volunteering across the UK.

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