National charity Friends of the Elderly (FotE) has lately called British citizens to “Be a Friend and help change the future of loneliness”.
This campaign’s goal is to encourage “people across the country to get to know their older neighbours, and look out for each other where they can”.
FotE aims to engage a minimum of 30,000 people during the first year of the new campaign – wich means at least 10 people in every town, village and city across the UK.
A report published by Friends of the Elderly’s entitled “The Future of Loneliness” has shown that over five million older people living in the UK are affected by loneliness, with more than a million (1 in 10 older people) saying they often feel lonely.
Since it has been proven that having everyday interactions with other people is a good solution to fight loneliness, FotE has decided to launch its campaign. The goal is simple : connecting neighbours, individuals and, ultimately, communities across the country by encouraging everyone to Be a Friend.
“Being a friend is easy; it is simply getting to know the people that live around you and looking out for each other where you can. From having a chat at the bus stop or over the garden fence, there are so many simple ways you can stay connected and make a difference to someone’s day, whatever their age”.
Every one accros the UK can now promise to Be a Friend on a dedicated website .
“Our Be a Friend campaign is a fundamental part of Friends of the Elderly’s long-term aim of combatting loneliness and isolation amongst older people. We already know that loneliness is a critical issue, but the Future of Loneliness report shows just how vital it is for us to take action now.
We believe loneliness can be overcome with relatively simple interventions and by encouraging everyone to connect with their older neighbours, we can empower young and old to connect better within their communities.” said Steve Allen, CEO of Friends of the Elderly.
The Future of Loneliness
Facing the challenge of loneliness for older people in the UK, 2014 to 2030 was conducted by FotE in partnership with global trends and insight firm the Future Foundation. Key findings include:
- From 2017 the 75+ population will grow rapidly. Demographic change alone will drive up the number of lonely older people in the UK by 40 per cent by 2030
- There is a strong connection between low contact with family members and loneliness – contact with children is especially important
- There is a strong link between having low levels of income and being lonely – older people in poverty suffer lower frequency of social contact
- Technology has the potential to make a positive impact on loneliness, but by 2030, 703,000 (10 per cent) of older people will still not have a mobile phone or use the internet.
The findings notably emphasise that personal interaction is needed to combat loneliness in older people. However, a supporting survey of the UK population showed that over 80 per cent of us currently have ‘irregular’ or ‘no contact’ with older people and over 50 per cent do not know their neighbours well enough to have a conversation with them. The report has provided a nationwide prediction of areas which will have the greatest potential need.