Loneliness is a bigger problem than simply an emotional experience. Research shows that loneliness and social isolation are very harmful to our health. Loneliness increases the likelihood of mortality by a shocking 26%. It can affect anyone at any stage of their life – from the bullied child at school, to the new mother who is feeling isolated, to the pensioner who has outlived her friends and immediate family.
By emphasising the health impacts of loneliness, as well as the social ones, we can make a very strong argument that this is an issue that must be addressed in a strategic and collaborative way.
The Campaign to End Loneliness has inspired thousands of organisations and people to do more to tackle the health threat of loneliness in older age. It’s a very useful network of national, regional and local organisations and people working together through community action, good practice, research and policy. We want to ensure that loneliness is acted upon as a public health priority at national and local levels and it is worth looking at some of their resources. Find out more.
Look at the statistics for your area
Much of this information is likely to already be available in your local Joint Strategic Needs Assessment (JSNA). These will be available on your council website. You could give the council a call or do an internet search. If not, you’ll be able to find much of it on the Office of National Statistics website.
- Lone pensioner households – numbers of households with only one person, who is over pensionable age, living alone
- Number of people aged over 65 and the expected increase over the next 20-30 years
- Number of winter deaths in population aged over 65
- Number of people living with dementia
- Fear of crime in over 65s
- Data on people (65+) who have recently lost their partners
The Campaign to End Loneliness have put together an excellent motion. We suggest adding a few lines about the situation in your own local area.
Is your council doing enough?
The LGA have this handy guide which sets out a range of actions to combat loneliness based on the latest evidence. It also provides some useful case studies of what local authorities are doing.
Crime is a major concern among many residents but especially older residents. Here is some useful direct mail to send to residents – one with a bogus callers card, which you should encourage residents to display, and the other containing residents’ briefings on cyber and scam crimes.
Jo Cox Foundation
The Jo Cox Commission on Loneliness is starting a national conversation about the scale and impact of loneliness in the UK. They will be working throughout 2017 with the following partners – Action for Children, Age UK, Alzheimer’s Society, The British Red Cross, The Campaign to End Loneliness, Carers UK, The Co-op, Eden Project Communities, Independent Age, Refugee Action, Royal Voluntary Service, Sense and The Silver Line – to shine a light on different aspects of loneliness and the positive steps we can all take to combat it.
They are asking people to take the pledge to start a conversation.
A few extra useful items:
And don’t forget – make sure you are always promoting local services in your area including befriending services, Age Concern, social clubs, etc.
If you have any examples of what you are doing in your area to combat loneliness, please do share them with us.