Local authorities are tacking action to tackle loneliness

BRADFORD COUNCIL became the first of the nine shamed authorities in the region to write loneliness into its Health and Wellbeing Strategy since we launched our campaign when it passed its plan in March.

Laura Ferguson, director of the Campaign to End Loneliness, said including loneliness in strategies marked a commitment to tackling the issue

Local health and wellbeing boards bring together key leaders from the health and care system to identify and prioritise health issues in the area, setting a benchmark on where to concentrate efforts.

Earlier this year, the Campaign to End Loneliness, partners in The Yorkshire Post’s Loneliness campaign, ranked each authority’s strategy on how well they address loneliness, and found nine in the region made “no significant mention” of loneliness.

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Identifying loneliness is vital to protect work already going on and help commission new services in future, the Campaign to End Loneliness has said.

Bradford Council’s Health and Wellbeing Strategy now includes tackling social isolation, and was passed by the council in March.

A spokesperson for the authority said it marked the issue in its strategy as it takes loneliness and social isolation seriously.

He said: “Although loneliness can affect anyone at any age, there is an additional focus on older people, as we recognise the importance of social engagement in maintaining health in older age.

“Initiatives like Be Neighbourly and Warm Homes, Healthy People, the development of dementia friendly communities and work carried out by the Older People’s Partnership are all areas where we are tackling loneliness.”

Last month Kirklees Council revised its Health and Wellbeing Strategy to recognise the importance of being connected to other people. A spokeswoman said the council was committed to tackling isolation and loneliness in “all vulnerable adults, including older people.”

She said: “The wellbeing of older people remains a council priority and we are working with our partners to address the issue of isolation and loneliness and to ensure people feel part of their community.”

Barnsley Council, which updates its strategy in 2016, said its draft strategy included “clear references” to social exclusion in people with mental health problems and the general population.

A spokesperson said its next strategy would mark a “significant shift” in the way health and social care services are delivered.

It is already working to reduce loneliness among older people in its central area by working with the Royal Voluntary Service on the Barnsley Central Looking Out for Older People project.

Leeds has pledged loneliness will be cemented in its health and wellbeing strategy when it is updated next year.

Laura Ferguson, director of the Campaign to End Loneliness said it planned to regrade councils next year to reflect changes that are being made.

She said: “Across the country, boards are updating their strategies. They have the power to influence bodies like Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs), which is why it so important that loneliness is included as a health issue. It marks a commitment to tackling the issue.”