Age Concern Southampton held a ‘Campaign to End Loneliness Walk’ on August 20th as part of the Southampton Over 50s Festival. Age Concern Southampton staff, volunteers and clients met outside the Guildhall and carried placards with slogans such as ‘End Loneliness!’ and ‘Live Life to the Full!’ They marched down the high street, attracting attention from shoppers, and back up through the parks.

The group had a brief talk in Hoglands Park from Phil Williams, Health and Wellbeing Officer from Age Concern Southampton, discussing the statistic:

In 2012 there will be over 12,000 people aged over 65 living alone in Southampton

Although many of these people will lead fulfilling lives, an unfortunate fact of life is that some people find that they have lost all their friends in the immediate area and have little contact with family. The ONS has shown that 6% of older people leave the house once per week or less.

This is the issue that Age Concern Southampton aims to address through their ‘Visiting Friends’ scheme, whereby volunteers visit housebound older people for a friendly chat, and ‘Active Friends’, who will help to build up the client’s confidence and support them in joining a new group activity such as a social club.

On the day of the walk two new volunteers signed up to visit an isolated older person once per week, joining the 60-strong team who already do so. A new Phone Friends scheme makes it even easier for volunteers to find time to make somebody smile, which is absolutely essential with a huge demand for the service.

David Fakray, of Age Concern Southampton, says ‘it was a great day. Not only did it raise awareness of this important issue, but it was a chance for people to come together, and friendships were made on the walk!’

Those wishing to brighten up an older persons life in Southampton in any way possible should contact Linda Templeton on 02380 368618.