Campaign see rugby clubs unite to tackle loneliness in older men

Castleford Tigers' Steve Ball' with the RVS stand, which will be present at home matches this season.
Castleford Tigers' Steve Ball' with the RVS stand, which will be present at home matches this season.
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The dwindling social lives of older men is making them increasingly isolated, as research revealed that 63 per cent of people think their father is lonely.

And many are hiding their true feelings, with 30 per cent of those questioned saying they didn’t believe their father would admit to being lonely.

The sad statistics were revealed by the Royal Voluntary Service (RVS) as it launched a new campaign to recruit new male volunteers in order to rekindle the dwindling social lives of older men who live alone.

The charity’s research showed that half people with a father over 75 who lives alone said that they don’t think their dad enjoys his hobbies as much as he used to. Lack of motivation, having no one to enjoy them with, and a lack of transport were all reasons for letting hobbies go.

The RVS’s Let’s Tackle Loneliness campaign has seen the charity team up with sports clubs including Castleford Tigers, Bradford Bulls and Huddersfield Giants to encourage their supporters to volunteer and share their love of the sport with people who may be socially isolated.

Paul Taylor, the RVS area manager for South and West Yorkshire and York, said: “Older men are not up front about say they are lonely and often won’t admit to themselves that what they are feeling is loneliness. Sport, and sports clubs, can be an ice-breaker, and bring people together.

“We know how damaging loneliness can be. As older men become withdrawn, their health suffers, they don’t get out much, they drink more and eat unhealthily.”

Last year the RVS launched its ‘Manhunt’ campaign to encourage male volunteers, after it took the word ‘women’s’ from its name. It has more than 35,000 volunteers in the country, but less than a fifth a men,

Mr Taylor said: “Although we provide services across Yorkshire like Good Neighbour schemes, we match our volunteers to where they are needed. An older man might say he used to go to a rugby match, or even just down to the pub for an hour, but for one reason or another has stopped. That’s were volunteers come in.

We want to be able to meet the needs of people who come to us.”

Castleford Tigers first got involved with the RVS during the Manhunt campaign and supporting the latest volunteer drive.

Player welfare manager Steve Ball said the club was actively trying to engage older men, and supporting the campaign was just one way of doing so.

“It’s a gradual process when people become disengaged. It might happen after the death of a partner or family move away and they no longer feel able to come alone,” he said. “But rugby clubs are really inclusive, and we want to reassure people that they can come down, become part of it.”

To sign up as a volunteer call 0845 608 0122 or visit www.royalvoluntaryservice.org.uk

l The Yorkshire Post’s Loneliness: The Hidden Epidemic campaign has been nominated alongside the country’s biggest national newspapers in the Older People in the Media Awards.

The campaign was launched in February.

It has two main aims - to get loneliness universally recognised as a health priority and to encourage our readers to volunteer for support services.

The awards recognise the best examples of media coverage concerning older people’s issues. The winner will be announced on November 13.