We can all feel lonely from time to time. Lonely is a fleeting feeling, which we can soothe with distraction or arranging something sociable. However, a much bigger problem is loneliness. This is a prolonged feeling of lonely, and it can be damaging to health.
This week, Japan appointed a loneliness minister. The UK has had a minister in this role for three years now. Ten years ago, The Campaign to End Loneliness emerged. As the country enters the recovery phase of Covid-19, this is going to be key to restoring mental health. Cornwall VSF is working with organisations in the sector to identify voices who have experienced loneliness and how they have overcome it. We will call this project Cornwall tackles loneliness.
“Loneliness feels to me like being underwater”– Kristen Radtke
Why Cornwall tackles loneliness
Loneliness is one of the most damaging challenges we face here in Cornwall. Its impact on health and wellbeing are more devastating than obesity and as dangerous as smoking. The national picture suggests that 45% of adults feel occasionally, sometimes or often lonely in England. Locally, in February of this year, 43% of adults said they had felt lonely in the last seven days. That’s almost twenty five thousand lonely people in Cornwall. The Campaign for Loneliness evidences that:
- Loneliness is likely to increase your risk of death by 26% (Holt-Lunstad, 2015)
- Loneliness, living alone and poor social connections are as bad for your health as smoking 15 cigarettes a day. (Holt-Lunstad, 2010)
- Loneliness is worse for you than obesity. (Holt-Lunstad, 2010)
- Loneliness and social isolation are associated with an increased risk of developing coronary heart disease and stroke
- It can increase blood pressure
- Can also increase cognitive decline and dementia
- Loneliness with severe depression is associated with early mortality and loneliness is a risk factor for depression in later life
How Cornwall is tackling loneliness?
We are blessed with over 2300 charities and community organisations in Cornwall. These comprise of many which are directly tackling loneliness. Whether it is community activities, food delivery, paid or voluntary caring, Cornwall is working together with its residents to tackle loneliness.
What makes us lonely?
Events in life can make us lonely. Loss or change in circumstances such as losing a job or relocating for one can cause us to be lonely. Particularly with the various lockdowns we have had, loneliness is higher now than ever. We want to find out what people do to manage their own loneliness. And what you, as organisations, do to tackle loneliness.
Loneliness is defined by the campaign as a gap between the mismatch in quality or quantity of relationships we have and those we want. How does loneliness make you feel?
The language of loneliness
In 2018, the BBC conducted the biggest ever study into loneliness. People used words like empty, disconnected, fear to describe loneliness. Our campaign seeks to remove the stigma attached to loneliness. Following the past 16 months, almost everyone is likely to have felt disconnected at some stage. We are visiting community organisations of all sizes to speak to those organising and participating in events which help tackle loneliness.
We want to hear your voices as practitioners, volunteers or citizens with lived experience. Our first podcast will focus on a conversation around loneliness and we are seeking voices to contribute to this. Please put your name forward if you would like one of the team to come and visit. firstname.lastname@example.org 07990633615