Tackling Loneliness in London

As our population ages, we must ensure older people can thrive in our city. Too many older Londoners get lost in the crowd and are unable to make the most of later life. Yesterday I went to a Techy Tea Party, hosted by Age UK London at the HQ of Amazon Audible. It was part of #happytochat, a new campaign from the Jo Cox Commission on Loneliness. The party reminded me of how important both personal and virtual connections can be for older people. It was great to know the older people there were being given new skills to help them […]

Some More Evidence About Loneliness

What do we know, or think we know, about loneliness among older people? In this series of posts so far we’ve mainly looked at specific local experiences, so I’m simply going to point out a few of the main pieces of research about loneliness and social isolation in older people. Firstly, loneliness is far too common among older people. Recent research for Age UK shows that over 1 million older people in the UK say they sometimes or always feel lonely. This is particularly striking because it is often thought to be difficult for people to admit to feeling lonely. […]

Are Older Londoners Lonelier?

Following hard on the heels of Gary Jones and Mel Wright’s posts about tackling social isolation and loneliness in Camden, The Guardian Social Care Network has just reported on a study suggesting that older and disabled people in London are more isolated and lonelier than in the rest of the country: http://www.theguardian.com/social-care-network/2014/jul/08/london-older-disabled-loneliest-care?CMP=twt_gu This is part of a larger survey of 75,000 adult social care users in England.  So it does not take account of loneliness/isolation affecting older people who don’t receive services.  London in general comes out as having a higher than average level of social isolation. Hackney has the […]

Camden – Urban Isolation

Offiong lives alone in sheltered housing. She came to Britain from Nigeria with her husband in 1956, trained as a radiotherapist and raised a family. Now living with the effects of glaucoma, her mobility is poor and she struggles to get around. Her flat is very comfortable and manageable but going out is a daunting experience. Bustling Kilburn High Road presents many obstacles: uneven pavements, short-timed road crossings, lack of public seating and footpaths obstructed by unnecessary street furniture, shop wares and the heavy pound of the crowd. All too much for Offiong who we filmed shopping, to tell her […]

Older People – Alone in the City?

Research shows that loneliness and social isolation kill a comparable number of older people to smoking or heart disease. This article explores some of the causes in an urban environment and some of the challenges and solutions. It is not meant to be an exhaustive review of research or good practice but to help with the debate in an era of public sector cuts. In all areas, urban or rural, Council and some community services are reduced, further away and increasingly online. Digital exclusion adds to isolation, and families are dispersed as older people’s children and grandchildren seek work, love […]

Loneliness Gap – It’s All About the Cuts

Amongst all the news and doom of the cuts agenda, life still goes on for the many older people we work with across London. With one in five older people below the poverty line and many living alone, and many with multiple health conditions to manage life isn’t easy. As services disappear the needs of our fellow Londoners remain. There are many older people who can’t get out, who have no family or friends left who are profoundly lonely. The day centres, lunch clubs, may be considered outmoded models, but the need left behind continues. They filled the need of […]