DURING THE last 12 months, the pages of The Yorkshire Post have been used not only to raise awareness of the issue of loneliness, but to force change both nationally and locally.
The aims of the campaign have been two fold, to force the region’s Health and Wellbeing Boards to recognise loneliness as a health priority, and to encourage readers to volunteer for supports services and community projects aimed at tackling the issue.
But we have also highlighted the growing body of research that lays bare the scale of the problem and the health issues associated with it.
Last month we reported on a new report by Campaign to End Loneliness and Age UK and that said loneliness is becoming a “major public health challenge” with a million older people - one in ten - chronically lonely and at increased risk of mental and physical illness.
And it warned the figure is set to rise by 50 per cent by 2028, putting increased pressure on services.
In June, we exclusively revealed that the number of elderly people living alone in the region was set to rise to more than a quarter of a million by 2020 - an extra 2,500 in just six years.
Rural areas are set to see the biggest increase, especially in Hambleton, Craven and Ryedale in North Yorkshire.
In December, we revealed that half a million pensioners across the country were set to spend Christmas Day alone, and in November, we reported on the “shock and alarm” at the numbers of people contacting older people’s helpline The Silver Line for advice in its first year