A Local Focus The Campaign and Communications team are ploughing their efforts into local authority workshops in a bid to encourage local councils to prioritise loneliness within their health strategies. The campaign also runs an ambassadors programme to train up willing individuals to raise awareness about the issue in their local area.

The Local Government Association (LGA) is also taking a proactive approach to the issue of loneliness, encouraging the 370 councils it represents to recognise the issue as a major public health concern.

The LGA have voiced their concerns about the impact loneliness could have on councils and health services, and as a result, is highlighting examples where action is being taken through activities and services in the community.

The authority has praised the efforts of Rotherham Clinical Commissioning Group who are running a “Social Prescribing” scheme with GPs to identify those at risk of loneliness. Home visits are then carried out by an advisor from Voluntary Action Rotherham to link people with voluntary and community services, such as befriending, community groups, carers’ respite or sensory services. Rotherham has found 83% of participant’s experienced positive change and as a result of the scheme inpatient admissions have been reduced by 21% and A&E attendances decreased by 20%.

Exeter Age UK and their Men in Sheds scheme, as well as Warwickshire Age UK’s Psychological Support Services have also been recognised by the LGA.

The association have published ‘Combating Loneliness’ guidance in partnership with Age UK and the Campaign to End Loneliness to advise local authorities how they can make a difference.

Councillor Izzi Seccombe, LGA spokesperson for public health, said: “The impact of loneliness

can be devastating and costly – with consequences comparable to smoking and obesity. This can be prevented with early intervention, which a number of councils are already successfully delivering in partnership with volunteer and community organisations.

inception the campaign team have seen 60% of health and wellbeing boards across the UK include loneliness or isolation in their

health and wellbeing strategies.”

“As our population profile changes, and we have a larger proportion of over 65s and over 85s, loneliness is becoming an increasingly important public health concern.”

Speaking about the impact local authorities can have Marcus Rand, Director of Campaign to End Loneliness, added: “Loneliness is a serious social and public health issue that must be urgently addressed. Local authorities have a key role to play in providing effective policies and solutions on the ground.”

Getting to the Crux The campaign’s Learning Network have produced a number of guidance papers to assist those working with lonely people. Recently the team have published papers exploring how loneliness can be measured, including advice on how to use their newly configured measurement tool, different scales and single-item questions to help service providers measure service- users levels of loneliness.

organisation’s “Since the

The Learning Network are also carrying out an Identification Project, developing guidance at three levels to help with the identification of those who may be lonely. The team have provided tips on how to use data sets to locate where lonely people are, developed a conversation guide that sets out how to have a conversation with someone that is lonely and gathered case studies showing best practice of organisations already using successful techniques to identify lonely people.

Spreading the Word On the 20th January the Campaign to End Loneliness partnered with Ageing Well in Wales, an initiative of the Older Peoples Commission in Wales, to host the Symposium on Loneliness in Cardiff. The Wales- focused Symposium attracted 150 delegates from across the UK, as well as a number of leading academics in the field of loneliness including Professor Vanessa Burholt who gave the keynote speech.

Speaking about the campaign’s second conference, Dr Kellie commented: “The conference brought together those working to address loneliness in older age to share new ideas, successes and challenges. Discussions focused on learning from both research and practice, and provided a place to connect with like-minded organisations, in order to inspire further action across the UK to combat loneliness in older age.”

What Does the Future Hold? The campaign has a jam-packed year ahead with the launch of their identification guidance set for March and the international research conference scheduled for November. The team are also mid-way through the development of a three-year strategy for 2017 onwards, in a bid to grow the campaign and develop its fundraising approach. - 19 -

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