NDTI are our evaluation partner, and make sure we’re delivering and measuring the campaign in the most effective way. In this blog Helen Bown, Head of Research and Policy at NDTI, tells us why she’s excited to work with us and why there are reasons to be positive in our efforts to tackle loneliness.
The impact of loneliness is well publicised. It’s estimated that over 1 million older people are chronically lonely right now, a number which is set to double by 2050. Indications are that the scale of loneliness in later life is consistent across the UK, whether in rural or urban areas, with estimated rates remaining constant in recent years.
Which is why the action by the Campaign to End Loneliness and others, and learning about how to change the situation matters so much. So, what do we already know? A plethora of action, research and learning has already got us off the starting block in terms of understanding the issue:
- Research highlights that neighbourhoods generate connected communities when local spaces, buildings and opportunities enable interactions and contributions from all.
- People are inspired to contribute their time and energy to help others when they are part of something bigger – businesses and charities can be catalysts of action when they provide this impetus, providing a springboard for people to be better connected and their contributions valued.
- Every individual is different – their assets and gifts as well as what has led to their loneliness. Which is why locally co-producing a range of interventions and approaches to engage and connect really matters.
- And evidence shows, that embedding this in all local and national plans and policies can create positive, sustainable change.
- Being kind is a great way to improve your own wellbeing. And yet whether one is kind is down to a complex interplay of individual and environmental factors. Whatever your age though and however lonely you feel at one time, the chance to share in a kind exchange could well turn into a meaningful relationship.
So, there’s much to be hopeful about but also much more to be done in changing the UK’s loneliness story from one of widespread heartache to one of widespread positive action and personal gain.
For us at NDTi, we’re looking forward to working with partners across the UK in further developing the evidence about what helps reduce loneliness in older age. Watch this space!