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Contact: Laura Ferguson, 07554 882070

Work together to combat loneliness and reduce health costs

A nationwide campaign is calling for more local collaboration between the statutory and third sectors to reduce loneliness among older people, which in turn could reduce health costs. This call comes as the Campaign to End Loneliness and the Centre for Social Justice work together to host the “Vital Connections” conference on 15 November 2011.

The Rural Coffee Caravan Information Project in Suffolk, one of the Campaign’s supporters, provides an example of how working together locally can be achieved. Today, 15 November, the Caravan is at Hitcham Village Hall, ensuring that people living in this rural area receive friendship through coffee, tea and homemade cakes, along with essential information about local organisations and the services they offer. The Rural Coffee Caravan Information Project works closely with statutory services and other local groups to ensure it can offer local people access to the information they need to stay connected.

Laura Ferguson, Director of the Campaign to End Loneliness stressed the need to prioritise such local services that can prevent loneliness and therefore reduce further health complications: “If you live on your own you can become lonely over time and, alarmingly, you are more likely to become ill and need more intensive health and social care support. Loneliness should be better understood and prioritised by all those providing support or contact to people in local areas, including health providers. Reducing loneliness is likely to reduce the vulnerability of older people and further health costs.”

Andrew Barnett, Director, Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation UK, said: “Those working with older people already recognise the importance of tackling loneliness – nearly 12% of older people in the United Kingdom feel trapped in their own home and some 200,000 older people in the UK receive no help to get out of their house or flat. We are delighted that the Campaign to End Loneliness and the Centre for Social Justice are together furthering the call to develop better links at the local level between statutory providers who often come into contact with the most isolated older people, and charities who are well-equipped and experienced at delivering personalised support.”