Exploring loneliness as health risk

Betty
Ahead of this year’s World Mental Health Day on 10 October, the council is sharing its findings on how loneliness can affect anyone.

Loneliness is increasingly recognised as a serious health concern, having a detrimental impact on health and wellbeing, affecting people of all ages.

Mayor John Biggs said: 

“The council and its partners are looking to tackle loneliness more widely and these projects provided a valuable insight into what we can do as a community to make life better for residents suffering from loneliness.

“Reducing loneliness not only improves people’s health and wellbeing, transforming their lives, but also reduces the strain on health and care services.”

A video was commissioned to capture two projects that further explored loneliness. The ‘Community Perspectives on Loneliness Project’ sought to explore resident’s views. Twenty volunteers were trained in a community research technique to find out over 600 residents’ thoughts and experiences of loneliness.

The ‘Action on Loneliness in Care Homes Project’ sought to directly address loneliness among care home residents by carefully matching them with a volunteer in the community on the basis of a shared interest or hobby. The intention was to encourage the development of a meaningful relationship that would be of value to both the resident and the volunteer.

The Tower Hamlets Health and Wellbeing Board (HWBB) have stated a commitment to taking action towards loneliness. They are looking to local people and the community to learn how to collectively address it with help from partner organisations.

Dr Somen Banerjee, Director of Public Health at Tower Hamlets Council said: “There are many factors that contribute to loneliness. Tower Hamlets is a place of high deprivation, low income and a densely populated urban environment. When you bring all of those things together, they can create high levels of loneliness.

“We thought it was really important to know more about people’s perception of loneliness and to explore what we can do about it.”

The Tower Hamlets HWBB will be engaging with stakeholders and community organisations about incorporating the issue more profoundly in future health strategies as it is one of the key features in the 2017 Ageing Well Strategy.

Have you experienced loneliness? The council is seeking people’s views, stories and comments. Watch and share our video and tweet us @TowerHamletsNow using the hashtag #loneliness

Further detailed reading of each project can be read in these reports:

Posted on Friday 6th October 2017