Loneliness and social isolation
Led by Elfyn Owen - Director, Canllaw (Eryri)Cyf
“Our ask is, if you are passionate and want to do something about how loneliness and social isolation affects people’s health and wellbeing please get in touch.”
Loneliness and social isolation can have serious health and wellbeing consequences which can be avoided if we take action. Yet over nine million people in the UK, almost a fifth of the population, say they are always or often lonely (British Red Cross and Co-Op, 2016).
Loneliness is a mismatch between the relationships we have and those we want. It is our internal trigger, letting us know it is time to seek company, just as hunger lets us know it is time to eat.
Isolation however, is often where there is no choice but to be alone. Some people seek solitude, but few choose to be lonely or isolated, primarily because it is not good for us.
Lonely people are often excluded from the opportunities many of us take for granted. They may find their self-worth, confidence and trust reduce, decreasing their access to new opportunities and to meeting new and different people in ordinary everyday situations. And yet it is from these that we develop new relationships, experiences, insights, interests, hobbies, and hopefully new friendships.
Loneliness is a bigger problem than simply an emotional experience.
Loneliness and social isolation are both linked to premature deaths and have been described as having a health impact equivalent to that of other public health concerns such as smoking and obesity. Lonely and socially isolated people are also at greater risk of being inactive, smoking and having behaviours that put their health at risk. Research also shows that they are linked to an increased risk of coronary heart disease and stroke and high blood pressure.
The project is in its infancy and first aims to better understand and improve people’s resilience, and how we can make them less susceptible to the harmful effects of loneliness and social isolation.
We are continuing to frame the challenge, which could build cohesive and supportive community support to sustain those necessary strong social networks, and how that can be made in North Wales relevant to support our communities.
The new revised JDT framework model has allowed us to take more time to develop the challenge and start gathering the evidence. We are currently viewing what we can offer, who needs or want to be involved, and what is already in place here in North Wales.
Our ask is, if you are passionate and want to do something about how loneliness and social isolation effects the individual’s health and wellbeing; or its links to other issues such as mental health, homelessness or poverty; or been inspired by or involved in recent community spirit supporting the vulnerable and isolated members of our society during the Covid-19 crisis, please get in touch.