Loneliness and social isolation

Introduction

We can all feel lonely from time to time. Feelings of loneliness are personal so can vary from person-to-person but some people may experience chronic loneliness. Loneliness can be described as feeling like our need for social contact or relationships haven’t been met.

Almost three-quarters of older people in the UK are lonely and more than half of those have never spoken to anyone about how they feel, according to a survey carried out for the Jo Cox commission on loneliness.

It is important to remember that anyone can experience loneliness including those that do not live alone as well as people that have lots of social contact.

There are some factors that can make people more vulnerable to loneliness, these are:

• If you have no friends and family.
• If you are estranged from your family.
• If you are a single parent or care for someone which makes it hard to maintain a social life.
• If you belong to a minority group and live in an area where there aren’t many people with a similar background to you.
• If you are excluded from activities due to mobility problems.
• If you don’t have much money for social activities.
• If you have experienced discrimination due to a disability, mental health issue, your race, gender or sexual identity.
• If you have previously experienced sexual or physical abuse which may make it harder for you to form close relationships with people.

Older people can be particularly vulnerable to loneliness and social isolation and this can have a serious effect on their health. There are lots of organisations and ideas to help people overcome loneliness, even if you live alone and find it hard to get out.

Ideas for you

Age UK offers a face-to-face and telephone befriending service that helps people who are feeling lonely to be put in touch with other people., see their website here.

Volunteer Cornwall provide a range of advice and support with things like health and wellbeing, volunteering and transport, you can find out about this here.

Cornwall Voluntary Sector Forum has a number of projects that can help signpost people to support in their community Your Community Gateway | Cornwall Voluntary Sector Forum (cornwallvsf.org)

The Band of Brothers charity supports young men in Cornwall through community mentors and development programmes, it meets in Falmouth The Falmouth Community | ABandOfBrothers and Penzance The Penzance Community | ABandOfBrothers.

The charity Mind offers support and ideas for people who are struggling with money and their mental here.

Man Down is a Cornish non-profit community interest company working to prevent suicide in men and provide peer support for men with mental health concerns.

The Mostly Grumpy Old Man’s breakfast meets in Redruth every 4-6 weeks to provide support and help reduce loneliness, access their Facebook page here.

The Family Information Service can provide support for new parents and links to local groups where you can meet other parents, access breastfeeding support and find antenatal classes here.

The charity PaNDAS provides support for all people affected by perinatal mental ill health which can affect parents during pregnancy or within the first postnatal year. They offer online and face-to-face support through their website.

Togetherall is an online support tool for people experiencing mental health issues in Cornwall.

Things that might help

Some proactive things you can do to help prevent feelings of loneliness are included here:

Other services and support

If you are worried about your own or someone else’s mental health call the Cornwall and Isles of Scilly 24/7 NHS mental health response line on 0800 038 5300. It’s free to access by anyone, any age, any time, day or night.

Cornwall Council is proactively encouraging the Phone a Friend campaign. You can find out more about it here.

If you need the support of a ‘befriender’ or would like to volunteer to become one you can contact Volunteer Cornwall here.

These issues often affect older people, you can find useful facts, information and advice from Age UK here.