I recently attended the Jo Cox Commission on Loneliness launch at the House of Commons in support of the commission and to find out about practical steps that can be taken to tackle loneliness amongst older people.
As part of the Commission’s spotlight on older people, nine organisations including Age UK and the Alzheimer’s Society are working to raise public awareness of loneliness and encourage everyone to act to tackle it. Age UK research shows that 1.2 million older people are chronically lonely, and half a million people over 60 usually spend every day alone, there is clearly a need for action.
Although there is no quick fix or single policy solution to eradicate loneliness, there are reasons to hope that we can change things for the better. The Commission aims not to simply highlight the issue of loneliness, but more importantly act as a call to action. Under the slogan ‘start a conversation’, its goal is to mobilise us all to help our neighbours, family and friends – whether it be talking to a neighbour, visiting an old friend, or just making time for the people you meet.
People can help by making time for older relatives and checking in on older friends and neighbours who they know. In addition, the organisations are asking their supporters and followers to post #happytochat on their Twitter and Facebook status to create online chatter around loneliness and encourage people across all generations to be aware of the loneliness that can often be found – but only behind closed doors.
Anyone who wants to find out more about the Commission or how they can get involved in tackling loneliness in their community can visit www.jocoxloneliness.org for further information.