Local authorities should listen for three reasons:
- Firstly, loneliness and social isolation are harmful to our health: research shows that lacking social connections is as damaging to our health as smoking 15 cigarettes a day[i] – making it a clear public health problem
- Secondly, public health has just come back into local authority responsibility
- Finally, research into the health implications of loneliness[ii] demonstrates that services that prevent loneliness prevent costs further down the line for local government. Therefore, preventing loneliness now is a public health investment that can lead to savings later on for local authorities.
[i] Holt-Lunstad J, Smith TB, Layton JB. Social relationships and mortality risk: a meta-analytic review. PLoS Med 2010;7(7).
[ii] See briefing note ‘Evidence about the impact of loneliness and isolation on health and social care costs’ here: http://www.campaigntoendloneliness.org/toolkit/why/how-this-fits-with-your-strategy/