Friday, 19 April 2013

Top 10 steps to Combat Loneliness

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The Challenge Network is the national charity for bringing local people together.  We build trust between people of different ages, incomes and ethnicities.

That’s why loneliness is a very real worry for us. For if there’s one thing worse than being in one group and distrusting another, it’s being in no group at all and distrusting everyone.

So in a country where 5million older people are lonely enough to say that the TV is their main companion and when we know that loneliness causes increased illness and anxiety – what can be done.

Here are our starters for ten:
1. Pension funds: Invest more of the funds you’ve received from older people in building the sort of homes they want when their older: private housing with shared public space that provides a sense of community when family live far away.

2. Young professionals worried about high rents: Try ‘Homeshare’: this great programme helps you find a low rent room in a older persons house where you can be a tenant and good company.

3. Department for Communities and Local Government: Stop automatically increasing the council tax when an elderly person decides to share their house with a guest. Allow the increase to happen more slowly to make house sharing more common.

4. Department of Education: Make volunteering part of the curriculum to support schools who want their students to do more elderly visiting.

5. Cabinet Office: Continue to expand the National Citizen Service which gets young people involved in their communities – reducing their loneliness but also the groups that they visit and work with.

6. Local Authorities: Allow more planning leeway for building of ‘granny flats’ so that families can have extended family nearer.

7. Department of Health: Measure levels of loneliness annually and include impact on loneliness when making decisions on how health services should be provided.

8. Social investors: Include loneliness in your assessment of social impact to allow innovative new  initiatives that address the issue to grow eg social sports leagues aimed at younger people moving to new cities.

9. Individuals: Join a local club or society, place of worship or amateur theatre group. Support local social spaces like this that then others can also join and make friends.

10. Individuals: Sign up to be a regular visitor of the elderly – why not google search right now and start today.

These are our 10, can you think of an 11th?

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