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Local Age UKs awarded £21m to tackle loneliness

Published on 08 September 2014 04:30 PM

Four local Age UKs will share £21m in funding from the Big Lottery Fund to combat loneliness

The Big Lottery Fund today announced the 15 areas in England that will share £82m from the Ageing Better fund to reduce social isolation of up to 200,000 older people.

Age UK Bristol, Age UK Camden, Age UK Cheshire and Age UK Isle of Wight have been selected to be lead partners in their areas.

 

Over 1m people aged 65 and over admit to always or often feeling lonely, and more people are now at risk of becoming isolated as our ageing population grows, lacking contact with family or friends, community involvement or access to services.

The Fund wants to tackle this and over 6 years it will support partners in 15 areas with £82m from the Ageing Better investment fund.

The partners will test different methods to find out what works, so that evidence is available to influence services that help reduce isolation for older people in the future.

The partnerships are made up of voluntary, statutory and private sector organisations, which will work with older people in rural, coastal and urban areas to ensure that local services are better planned, coordinated and delivered.

Older people will be at the heart of all the projects run by the local partnerships, with a strong voice in the decisions and priorities within their local communities. Activities will include befriending services, training and awareness-raising for frontline staff, creating neighbourhood networks and volunteering.

An 'important step' towards addressing loneliness

Gary Jones, Chief Executive Officer of Age UK Camden, said: ‘We are delighted that Big Lottery Fund has awarded funds to Ageing Better in Camden. This is an important step towards addressing loneliness and isolation in older people in Camden, which is widely recognised as being a ‘hidden killer'.

‘We will build on existing strengths within the community, working with key partners including pharmacists and GPs, community groups, organisations and individuals, as well as a network of volunteers known as Community Connectors, to support the more isolated older to better participate in community activity. We are very much looking forward to getting the programme up and running.'

Damaging effects of loneliness

Loneliness can be seriously damaging and recent studies have shown it has double the impact of obesity and that feeling extreme loneliness can increase an older person's chances of premature death by 14%.

Nat Sloane, Big Lottery Fund England Chair, said: ‘Just under 4 million older people told Age UK this year that television is their main company. Social isolation is bad for health with links to chronic conditions and increased mortality. With more people living well into their eighties, pressures on local services and budgets will continue to rise.

‘There are concerns about a ticking time bomb facing adult social care, but older people have a wealth of experience and skills to offer their communities.

‘We need to tap into this - to help them help themselves and others living alone. Our Ageing Better investment will put them at the heart of the way the projects are designed and delivered to ensure that future generations of older people not only live longer but also live well.'

Throughout the Ageing Better investment, evidence will be produced to show the social and economic impact of a range of approaches. Ecorys, working with the Brunel Institute for Ageing Studies at Brunel University and Bryson Purdon Social research, will measure the impact of the funding and share successes and lessons learnt so projects deliver sustainable improvements.

Last updated: Oct 06 2017

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