Many of us will have a busy Bank Holiday seeing friends and family but it is also a good time to be reminded about the work taking place to recognise loneliness and its impact on people of all ages.
In January this year the Government appointed Tracey Crouch MP as the Minister for loneliness and committed to taking forward a number of work areas including:
- Developing a cross-government strategy on loneliness in England to be published later this year. This will bring together government, local government, public services, the voluntary and community sector and businesses to identify opportunities to tackle loneliness, and build more integrated and resilient communities.
- Developing the evidence-base around the impact of different initiatives in tackling loneliness, across all ages and within all communities, led by the government’s What Works centres.
- Establishing appropriate indicators of loneliness across all ages with the Office for National Statistics so these figures can be included in major research studies.
- A dedicated fund which will see government working with charitable trusts, foundations, and others to:
- stimulate innovative solutions to loneliness across all ages, backgrounds and communities
- provide seed funding for communities to come together to develop activities which enable people to connect
- scale-up and spread existing work offering practical and emotional support to help lonely individuals reconnect with their communities.
In April the Office for National Statistics published an analysis of characteristics and circumstances associated with loneliness in England using the Community Life Survey, 2016 to 2017. Available here.
The focus on loneliness has also enabled the sharing of advice on how to support people:
How to help lonely elderly people
- Start a conversation. Stop and talk. Don’t hurry them.
- Offer practical help, such as shopping, posting a letter, picking up prescriptions or walking their dog.
- Offer to accompany them or give them a lift to medical appointments, the library, hairdressers or faith services.
- Share your time – volunteer with an organisation that has befriending services matching you with an isolated elderly person for home visits or regular phone calls.
- Help with household tasks – offer to take out the rubbish, change light bulbs, clear snow, put up pictures.
- Share a meal – take round an extra plate of hot home-cooked food or a frozen portion.
… and lonely younger people
- Reach out. Arrange to meet face to face or talk on the phone.
- Encourage people to start conversations, whether a short face-to-face chat or joining an online discussion.
- Offer to go to a class or group activity with them.
- Suggest they look for talking treatments in their local area to help them manage the mental health effects of loneliness.
- Listen and don’t make assumptions. People can feel lonely even if it looks like they have a busy and full life. Some people may benefit from online support set up to tackle loneliness.