An investment of nearly £1m has been announced to tackle the scourge of loneliness in a West Yorkshire district.
The Yorkshire Post identified Calderdale Council as one of nine local authorities in the region that fails to give significant mention to loneliness and social isolation in its health and well-being strategy. As part of our campaign, we want the issue to be universally recognised as a health priority by all councils.
Now, Calderdale Council says it is investing almost £1m, jointly with NHS Calderdale Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), to tackle loneliness, a problem that researchers say can be as harmful as smoking 15 cigarettes a day.
The funding will be used to deliver a programme which will work with established community organisations and community development trusts across Calderdale to strengthen existing support, the Council said.
Dr Steven Cleasby, clinical lead for NHS Calderdale CCG, said: “We want to put an end to loneliness. We know that 11,520 people aged over 65 live alone in Calderdale and estimate that about 30 per cent feel lonely with another 12 per cent feeling trapped in their own home. Lonely people are also more likely to visit their GP, have higher use of medication, fall more frequently and become more reliant on care services.
“As well as the impact on a person’s physical health, loneliness and low social interaction are reasons for mental illness and even suicide in older age. It particularly affects the over 75s who are a priority for the CCG.”
The Council said experts will be drawn together to form partnerships with the public, private and voluntary sectors to identify ideas for tackling loneliness and putting them into practice. The funding will also be used to improve access to services, to encourage the community to get involved in creating innovative ways to bring lonely people together and draw them into community life, and to promote awareness of the impact loneliness has and how people can help someone suffering in silence.