The UK should be ashamed of chronically lonely headlines

Blog posted

21st October 2013

It makes me extremely sad to read the BBC’s report on Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt’s speech about loneliness in Britain.

The fact that five million people say the TV is their main form of company is an upsetting state of affairs. The fact 800,000 elderly people are quoted as being ‘chronically lonely’ by the Campaign to End Loneliness, is even more distressing.

Isolation is horrendous. Everyone enjoys a few moments of quiet and some solitude but when it’s an enforced situation which isn’t ‘moments’ but instead amounts to days and even weeks, this becomes a seriously sad and unacceptable situation.

Our own trade association ARCO launched last year with its own findings on loneliness which we covered ourselves here and this latest report, should leave everyone who knows a person in this situation, feeling very uncomfortable and determined to do something about it.

The clocks go back at the end of this month. That means shorter days and potentially worsening weather – the risk of further isolation becomes even more compounded.

I know from our own experiences that within our retirement village communities people look out for each other and that’s not just because residents are of a similar age. It’s simply because they care about their neighbours.

If this can happen in our villages, it should surely be a natural way of life within the wider scope of the country and every neighbourhood. We should all have a moral duty and a sense of responsibility to keep a watchful eye on an elderly neighbour who may be housebound or a little frail and reluctant to leave the home, and who may not have a string of regular visitors calling in and no family close by.

I think we should all remember that one day we will be old ourselves – who knows what our own situations may turn out to be – but one thing is for sure, if we are a little lonely we will be delighted to see a friendly face and a welcome conversation – rather than simply listening to the TV.

Sarah Burgess