BMB have launched a thought-provoking new campaign, for the Campaign to End Loneliness, designed to raise awareness around the UK’s growing loneliness epidemic and to help end the stigma surrounding it.
The Campaign to End Loneliness has revealed that 9 in 10 people (89%) believe loneliness in older age is more likely now than ever – with over half of British adults saying that admitting to loneliness is difficult.
The Campaign also released a review by the London School of Economics (LSE) that demonstrates that it pays to invest in loneliness interventions. Up to £3 of health costs can be saved for every £1 spent on an effective intervention.
The Campaign to End Loneliness is launching the first phase of its work to drive public action to tackle loneliness in older age, working with partners from across the UK to inspire thousands of people to take action in their communities, workplaces, and businesses. The Campaign is supported with National Lottery funding from the Big Lottery Fund.
Laura Alcock-Ferguson, Executive Director of the Campaign to End Loneliness, said: “There is much to do to overcome loneliness. The huge stigma surrounding it is clear, which is slowing down efforts to combat it. This is isolating millions of older people – and with our ageing population, the epidemic of loneliness is growing fast.
“The fact that over three-quarters of older people will not admit to feeling lonely is deeply worrying. The health impacts of loneliness are devastating; it is worse for you than obesity and as bad for you as smoking 15 cigarettes a day. Most worrying, however, is the popular view that loneliness in older age is more likely than ever – that loneliness is inevitable.
“But, with two thirds of people wanting to address the loneliness epidemic – and with compelling evidence that it pays to tackle loneliness – we know that we can challenge this. Loneliness is not inevitable. So, we are calling on the public to take action. Watch and share our inspiring new film
‘The Loneliness Project’, and join the campaign. Together, we can end loneliness.”
Deborah Moggach, Campaign to End Loneliness ambassador and author of the best-selling novel The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, believes by working together it is possible to tackle loneliness. She said:
“Loneliness really is the last taboo. Older age should be seen as a whole new adventure – not an inevitable descent into despair. We have to stop thinking of this as someone else’s problem. As a society, we need to recognise loneliness as an issue, and put something in place that enables older generations to flourish – not flounder.”
84 year-old Barry Ward, who took part in ‘The Loneliness Project’, said: “Loneliness is like grief; it’s suffocating. After my beloved wife Christine suddenly died, I felt only half alive. I felt paralysed by loneliness. By talking more about it, we can break down the stigma that prevents many older people from being open about loneliness. The human need for friendship and support does not go away with age; it actually increases. Whether we are 24 or 84, we all need connections that matter.”