The perils of loneliness

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Loneliness and social isolation have clear impacts on people’s health, wellbeing and behaviour.

They can be linked to increased death rates, blood pressure, risk of dementia and symptoms of depression.

A lack of social connections has been reported to be as damaging to health as smoking and as strong a risk as obesity.

Research for our Co-op partnership found that social isolation creates an identity crisis.

We also found that loneliness is a serious and widespread issue.

Almost 80% of people have experienced loneliness, with nearly one in five people in the North East, Yorkshire and Humber saying they’re always or often lonely.

With a rising and ageing population, the number of people experiencing loneliness and social isolation is expected to grow.

Our research has shown that interventions are most effective when preventing initial or temporary experiences of loneliness from becoming chronic.

When left ignored, the impacts can escalate, leading to misery for individuals and unnecessary additional pressure on stretched NHS and care services.

Our long-established work on preventative projects, such as assisting somebody to return home from hospital, making sure they have enough to eat or take their medication, demonstrates real impacts on individuals.

Many of the people we support live alone.

Without us they would return home from hospital to an empty house and would not have enough support to live safely and independently.

Over the next two years the British Red Cross will provide direct, personalised support for up to 12,500 people across the UK.

We want to thank the staff and members of Co-op food stores for contributing a total of more than £130,000 towards the £4million that has been raised nationwide.

Where we believe the Red Cross and Co-op can add value is by mobilising people at the heart of our organisations – our members and our volunteers – to take action and create sustainable solutions to help people in crisis.

Mike Adamson,

Chief Executive,

British Red Cross,

C/o Moorfields,

London.