From 20 March to 23 April 2017, Age NI will be calling on people in Northern Ireland to 'start a conversation' as part of the initiative by Jo Cox Commission on Loneliness which both addresses loneliness and encourages people to take positive steps to combat the issue.
Linda Robinson, Age NI Chief Executive, said, 'Age NI welcomes the spotlight on loneliness as a result of the Jo Cox Commission on Loneliness, a significant challenge that is facing many older people.
'We all have a role to play in reducing the loneliness and isolation experienced by older people. From 20 March to 23 April, we will be encouraging individuals, families and communities to 'start a conversation' on loneliness, whether that’s by being friendly and chatting with a neighbour, visiting or staying in touch with an older relative, or simply making time for the people we meet every day.
'Loneliness takes the joy out of life and undermines a person’s feelings of self-worth. Described as a 'public health challenge' and an 'epidemic', loneliness can have a profound effect on the mental, emotional and physical health or wellbeing of our older friends, family and neighbours, often disconnecting them from other people and their local community.
'Every year, Age NI provides support, care and companionship to thousands of older people who are living with a range of health conditions like dementia, mobility issues, stroke and cancer. An underlying issue shared by many is excruciating loneliness and isolation.
'Age NI believes that if we all come together and start a conversation about loneliness, we can take positive steps towards tackling an issue that devastates the lives of many people in our society.'
To get involved, follow Age NI twitter activity using #startaconversation