Tackling loneliness and isolation, particularly in older and vulnerable people, is recognised by all agencies, both locally and nationally, as a high priority because of its negative impacts on mental and physical health.
Copeland is facing a greater challenge than other areas, with its larger population of over 60s (27.3% in Copeland – compared with 22.7% nationally), compounded by issues arising from rural isolation and significant social deprivation.
This three year project has three aims:
- To raise awareness of the complexity and negative impacts of loneliness on the health and wellbeing of older and vulnerable people, remove the stigma which prevents it from being acknowledged.
- To enable lonely and isolated people to connect with others in their community and improve their health, wellbeing and ability to live independently by, for example, linking lonely / isolated people to a wide range of opportunities within their own community e.g. activity groups; activities at home for the housebound or geographically isolated and volunteering opportunities.
- To support the development and sustainability of community ‘solutions’ for addressing loneliness by, for example, mobilising, training and supporting volunteers to support lonely/isolated people in various ways and supporting the use of community venues.
Age UK West Cumbria raised over £500,000 in total for a West Cumbria wide project. In Copeland this included £139,386 Big Lottery Fund, £44,158 Henry Smith Charity and £45,000 from Copeland Borough Council.
Sarah Bromiley, Project Lead for Age UK West Cumbria, said, ” Loneliness and social isolation can drastically affect the health and well-being of older people. This project will help lonely people in Copeland gain confidence and give the opportunity to become more connected to and involved with their local communities. Similarly, the awareness campaign will inform the wider community as to the specific issues that loneliness and isolation can bring. The importance of skilled and motivated volunteers is at the heart of the project’s values, and will help develop future community solutions and cohesion for many years to come.”