This is a guest blog post from Anna Goodman, Co-ordinator at Campaign to End Loneliness.
Loneliness is a very individual experience, an emotional response to the lack of quality or quantity of connection in our lives. Although it is difficult to measure, we know that 6-13% of the population over 65 are lonely always or most of the time.
If we take the middle figure of 10%, this means that one million older people are suffering from chronic loneliness across the United Kingdom today.
There a number of things we face in older age that can increase our risk of experiencing loneliness. This might be because we’ve retired or experienced bereavement, are less mobile or have hearing loss. In urban areas, a fear of crime might make it harder to leave the house, whilst in rural areas this might happen because of a lack of regular public transport.
But there is much that can be done to combat loneliness, as many organisations and individuals in Scotland will be able to tell you.
In his Christmas message this year, the First Minister of Scotland Alex Salmond spoke of a shared sense of empathy and collective responsibility to each other as being “the best thing of all” about Scotland.
So we’d recommend that you look at inspirational work of some of our Scottish supporters, who work tirelessly to ensure older people can maintain and create meaningful friendships across the country:
- Impact Arts, Glasgow
- Befriending Network Scotland, Nationwide
- Food Train Friends, Stirling, West Lothian, Dumfries and Galloway
- Drumchapel Home Visiting Scheme, Glasgow
The Campaign now has over 100 organisations supporting the cause of ending loneliness in older age, as well as individuals across the UK.
We were set up in February last year by four charities – Independent Age, Counsel and Care, Age UK Oxfordshire and WRVS – who wanted to create a united approach to tackling all of these issues that have an impact on our connections in later life.
We believe that everyone, from individuals to charities, councils to national government, have a responsibility to do something to end loneliness. For example, in December, we released our report and a series of postcards which asked people to simply talk about the issue and share with their family and friends what they knew of in their local area that could help.
You can find a copy of this report, Listening to You, and the postcards here.
We are a UK-wide coalition of organisations and individuals who all wish to combat loneliness and inspire individuals to keep connected through:
- raising awareness of loneliness and why working to reduce it matters
- building the evidence base on loneliness, promote what works and fill gaps in our knowledge
- sharing future-proofing ideas for individuals to help us all protect our own lives against loneliness in older age.
If you believe we should all take action to stop loneliness blighting the lives of older people then become a supporter of the Campaign to End Loneliness. You’ll be the first to receive the latest news from research and practice and invites to get involved in our campaigns.
To find out more, contact the Campaign to End Loneliness on 020 7012 1409 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.