Loneliness Harms Health: Gloria Hunniford calls on people to campaign to end loneliness

Gloria Hunniford today joins forces with the Campaign to End Loneliness to highlight that loneliness harms health this week.

There are 800,000 older people in England who are chronically lonely.1 Loneliness is as bad for us as smoking 15 cigarettes a day2 and has a destructive impact on our quality of life.Despite this, services and activities keeping older people connected are under threat. To confront this challenge, the Campaign to End Loneliness today urges people across England to let their local health bodies know about the health impacts of loneliness and how much tackling loneliness matters to them. This could include writing to their local newspaper, their MP or building a network of people in their area who care about the issue of loneliness.3

This week, the Campaign to End Loneliness launches Loneliness Harms Health nationwide with launch events taking place in Cornwall and Essex: a fair showcasing local services aimed at keeping older people connected will be held in Cornwall, whilst Chelmsford in Essex will
host a public meeting addressed by a senior county councillor and local voluntary sector representatives.

Gloria Hunniford lent her support to Loneliness Harms Health, saying:

1 1 Victor, CR, Scambler, SJ, Bowling, A and Bond, J (2005) The prevalence of, and risk factors for, loneliness in later life: a survey of older people in Great Britain, Ageing and Society, 25, (3), pp 357–76

2 2 Holt-Lunstad J, Smith TB, Layton JB. Social relationships and mortality risk: a meta-analytic review. PLoS Med 2010;7(7) http://www.plosmedicine.org/article/info:doi/10.1371/journal.pmed.1000316

3 You can find out more by taking a look at the Loneliness Harms Health Action Pack which guides people through starting a campaign. It is available on our website at www.campaigntoendloneliness.org.uk/campaign/loneliness-harms-health

“I was shocked to discover that loneliness is as bad for our health as smoking fifteen cigarettes a day! Of course, we can all help by making sure we are properly supporting our older family, friends and neighbours. But for lasting change in our communities, we also need to make sure that our councils and local NHS authorities are working to protect and improve services that can help reduce loneliness. To make sure they listen, we must work together – that’s why I’m supporting the Loneliness Harms Health campaign.”

Media Case Studies

The cuts and closure of key services can have a devastating impact on older people who rely on them to keep them active and connected, as the case study of Mrs D suggests:

Mrs D is a widowed 84 year old who lives in rural Cornwall. She suffers from severe depression and arthritis. She used to attend a day centre in the nearby town, which she very much enjoyed, but which closed down in 2010. Since then, she has found nothing to replace it and has become ever more isolated.

Mrs D would be willing to speak to a journalist to discuss her experiences.

Key services can make a huge difference to the lives of people experiencing loneliness, as this case study demonstrates:

Mrs F was experiencing severe loneliness because she was caring for her husband who suffered from Alzheimer’s. She was signposted to a Cornwall Memory Café. After this, her life took a massive change for the better. She has been visiting the cafe for nearly two years now. Her husband is in a long term care home and she continues to visit the cafe every fortnight, describing it as her lifeline. She has even become a part of the committee.

Mrs F would also be willing to speak with a journalist about her experiences.

We can provide details of a variety of other individuals across England who would be willing to discuss their experiences with a journalist.