Fringe Box



Councillor Sets Up Group to Tackle Loneliness

Published on: 30 Apr, 2024
Updated on: 2 May, 2024

The group that attended The Guildford City Match on Saturday. Cllr Steve Hives is second from the left in the rear row.

A Lib Dem councillor has worked with Guildford City Football Club to launch a new group to reduce loneliness in Guildford.

Prior to being elected as a Guildford Borough councillor in May 2023 to represent Stoke ward, Steve Hives knocked on hundreds of doors in Guildford. He encountered a few residents who just wanted to chat; they said that they didn’t speak to anyone from one week to the next.

So Steve wrote to the secretary of Guildford City FC, Barry Underwood, to see what could be done, and with Barry, developed the idea of the “Loneliness Initiative”.

The councillor also sought advice from Voluntary Action South West Surrey, which saw him secure funding to pay for entry and half-time refreshments. Further help and advice was given by Guardian Angel Carers, Guildford Philanthropy, SABP [Surrey and Borders Partnership NHS Foundation Trust] resulting in arrangements made for around 10 people to watch ‘The Sweeney’ (as the club are nicknamed) for their last match of the season.

On Saturday (April 27) the group was at Spectrum to see Guildford City secure a point in their match against Epsom & Ewell and their place in the Combined Counties Premier Division (South) next season.

The Sweeney attacking in the Epsom goal in the match the new group watched.

See also: One Point Is Enough – Guildford City Avoids the Drop!

Steve told The Dragon: “Occasionally, I meet people who feel socially disconnected who just want to chat and to meet others but for various reasons are unable to do so. Some have in recent times had a rough time of it sometimes finding it difficult to see a positive future.

“I decided to set up an initiative where we can provide a place and opportunity for people with similar interests to get together. I reached out to Barry Underwood, the GCFC Secretary, who had a similar idea and so since then, I have secured the funding and addressed the logistics.

“With the support of the various agencies we hope that we can make a positive difference. If the Loneliness Initiative is a success then we hope to continue through the rest of the year and beyond.”

Further sporting events are planned over the next few months including watching the Guildford Flames and Guildford Cricket Club. For those less interested in sport, Cllr Hives and the team are working on some alternative options and are always open to ideas.

Cllr Julia McShane

Leader of Guildford Borough Council, Julia McShane (Lib Dem, Westborough) said: “This is a really positive news story for everyone. I congratulate Cllr Hives on bringing people together to create something that will make a positive difference to those experiencing loneliness.

“Making a meaningful contribution to our communities is what being a Liberal Democrat is all about and I am very proud to see our values in action in this way. ”

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