The first of February marks the two year anniversary of the Campaign to End Loneliness. So to celebrate our birthday, we’ve taken a look back at the last 12 month’s main activities and achievements. Why not share your highlights from 2012 in the comments section below?
- We published our first guide of the year with the Local Government Association. Combating loneliness: a guide for local authorities summarises key research on the issue of loneliness, and offers some practical steps every local authority can take to tackle the problem.
- The Campaign to End Loneliness and the Department of Health hosted a Summit to tackle loneliness in older age on the 15th of March 2012. Hosted by Paul Burstow MP, then Minister of State for Care Services, it brought together representatives from the local government, charity and business sectors to gain wider commitment to overcoming loneliness.
- The event secured significant media coverage. Laura Ferguson, Director of the Campaign to End Loneliness, appeared on BBC Breakfast and ITV Central News, and was interviewed by The Independent and The Guardian.
- April marked the start of Loneliness Harms Health – a series of local campaigns that aim to get local health and wellbeing boards in England to recognise the negative health implications of loneliness and isolation in older age, to take responsibility for measuring the it in their area, and to develop a strategy to reduce it.
- Throughout 2012, the Campaign has been establishing and supporting campaign groups in five areas: Cornwall, Essex, Sefton, Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent (the latter three continuing into 2013).
- In October, Loneliness Harms Health was launched nationwide across England at two events, one in Cornwall and one in Essex. An ‘action pack’ for campaigners, using learning from Campaign-initiated campaigns, was also published and distributed widely. Supporters across the country have been campaigning with us, raising awareness of the issue and asking key health and care decision makers to act
- With Age UK Oxfordshire we hosted a two day, international conference at Merton College, Oxford to explore with researchers, policy makers and practitioners the latest robust evidence on loneliness from around the world.
- Leading academics in the field of loneliness and isolation travelled to Oxford to speak, including Professor John Cacioppo of Chicago University, Professor Jenny de Jong Gierveld of Vrije Universiteit, Amsterdam and Professor Mima Cattan of Northumbria University.
- July was also significant as we launched Loneliness and Isolation: a toolkit for health and wellbeing boards, an online resource developed with funding and support from the Department of Health – to enable health and wellbeing boards to better understand, identify and commission interventions for the issue of loneliness in older age. The loneliness toolkit and research conference received significant media coverage with features in the Daily Mail, BBC Health News and Huffington Post.
- The toolkit has been a significant achievement for the Campaign to End Loneliness in 2012, as it allows the Campaign to support every health and wellbeing board with detailed information, case studies and resources – and campaigners have a ‘solution’ when their local board expresses an interest in taking action.
- We now know there are 16 health and wellbeing boards committed to measuring loneliness in their communities and are including it in their health and wellbeing strategies for the coming years. As a direct result of our campaigning and loneliness toolkit, Cornwall and Essex are two of these 16 boards, and the newer campaigns in Sefton and Staffordshire are also looking promising.
- We ran a workshop at the Envelhecimento & Inovação Social, an international conference on ageing and social innovation in Lisbon, organised by the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation.
- We published Tackling Loneliness: a role for the arts with by the Baring Foundation, this publication demonstrates how participatory arts can help reduce loneliness. With 10 new case studies, the report also illustrates some less conventional interventions to alleviate loneliness.
- At the beginning of December we held a parliamentary event with Paul Burstow MP to launch a Constituency Campaign pack designed to help all MPs to lead the way in making sure their constituents are part of a connected community. 20 MPs attended the event, and a further 70 received a campaign pack after the event.
- Since the launch in early December, 7 MPs have secured press coverage highlighting the health risks of loneliness in their constituencies. A further 3 MPs have organising meetings between councils and the voluntary sector to discuss the issue.
- Finally, with Age UK Oxfordshire we published an important new evidence review on loneliness, health and wellbeing: Loneliness The State We’re In compiles international research on the impact of loneliness on health and quality of life, and identifies triggers and potential interventions. It also aims to stimulate debate and discussion in the academic community working on ageing, and identify gaps in the research that need to be filled.