HUNDREDS of lonely people who felt isolated at home have discovered fun, friendship and confidence, thanks to an inspirational woman.

Jackie Brown has transformed the lives of almost 400 residents in Winsford through an innovative project.

Working as a social prescribing co-ordinator for the National Lottery funded Brightlife programme, Jackie has encouraged many elderly people to join clubs and take up new hobbies and activities.

"I am very passionate about making a difference to the lives of people," said Jackie. "I get a massive buzz when I see people enjoying life no matter what their age."

Winsford Guardian:

Jackie Brown, social prescribing co-ordinator for Brightlife in Winsford received a special award from town mayor Cllr Gina Lewis at the annual Oscars ceremony

Jackie's commitment was recognised when she received a special award from town mayor Cllr Gina Lewis at the annual Oscars ceremony to honour the efforts of unsung heroes.

"It was a real privilege to receive this honour," said Jackie. "Everybody has been so welcoming in Winsford, it is such a well connected community," said Jackie. "I really do appreciate the support all the health professionals and social workers have given the project.

"They have really bought in to what we're doing."

Older people feeling low and depressed often turn to their GP for help but they don't always need pills or potions.

"Some 40 per cent of people go to the doctor for a non medical issue," said Jackie. "People don't know what is out in the community.

"We have worked so hard to make connections and give people different choices.

"Doctors have told me I have saved thousands of pounds with just one lady."

Elderly residents who rarely saw anyone now meet up with friends at places like chatterbox cafe, Monday club or the Salvation Army Day Centre.

Winsford Guardian:

Jackie Brown chats with people at the Monday club in the Dingle Centre, just one of the many groups she helped to set up

"I support them in a person-centred way," said Jackie. "I build up their trust and find ways to overcome barriers. Some have never had a chance to get out and meet new people, others have lost confidence.

"It's about improving people's health and wellbeing."

Younger patients with complex medical conditions, people with mental health issues or vision impairment, carers and widows and widowers have all found a new lease of life.

"Whatever their circumstances, my role is connecting them with as many services, projects, organisations and activities as I can," added Jackie. "I put them in touch with like-minded people so they have things to look forward to.

"It breaks my heart to listen to some people's stories of how they have been caring for loved ones for years and then when they are bereaved, they feel so isolated. They are the unsung heroes.

"We have demonstrated that there is a need for this project. It was a new concept three years ago and now it is a huge success. There are massive health benefits and it has given people a much better quality of life."

Winsford Guardian:

Jackie Brown is grateful for all the support she has received from health professionals, social workers and various partners in transforming the lives of elderly people who felt isolated and lonely

Cllr Lewis said: "We are very grateful to Brightlife for all the work they have done in Winsford. They have brought together so many different organisations to help those who are on their own, those who have limited resources.

"We're all very thankful for all that they do."