Posted: Thursday 29th November 2018
Hertfordshire County Council (HCC) have recently launched a new pilot project called "Connecting Lives" in Letchworth.
The aim of Connecting Lives is to utilise trusted local people (such as hairdressers, shopkeepers, employees) who ALREADY have daily contact with local residents to help address the crisis of social isolation in older people.
Older people are especially vulnerable to loneliness and social isolation – and it can have a serious effect on health. According to Age UK, more than 2 million people in England over the age of 75 live alone, and more than a million older people say they go for over a month without speaking to a friend, neighbour or family member.
People can become socially isolated for a variety of reasons, such as getting older or weaker, no longer being the hub of their family, leaving the workplace, the deaths of spouses and friends, or through disability or illness. Whatever the cause, it's shockingly easy to be left feeling alone and vulnerable, which can lead to depression and a serious decline in physical health and wellbeing.
Someone who's lonely probably also finds it hard to reach out. There's a stigma surrounding loneliness, and older people tend not to ask for help because they have too much pride.
Many of us already come into contact with older people who may express feelings of loneliness or needing support. Connecting Lives can help you know where to signpost people for help. Although Letchworth has been chosen for the pilot (it has more older people than any other town in Hertfordshire), you can use the Connecting Lives information to support anyone in Hertfordshire wherever they live. HertsHelp is the place to start.
The staff at HertsHelp have a countywide directory of support groups, clubs and activities for all ages and will support people to access the help they need. HERTSHELP 0300 123 4044