Summit will look at loneliness and social isolation

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Medway Matters

Medway is to stage its first summit which looks at the issue of loneliness and social isolation.

The Medway Tackling Social Isolation Summit will see organisations such as Medway Council, Medway Community Healthcare, Medway NHS  Foundation Trust, Medway Clinical Commissioning Group, Kent Fire and Rescue, Age UK and the British Red Cross come together to understand more about how loneliness affects people’s lives and discuss how people, particularly the elderly, can be supported to reduce their time alone.

The issue has been highlighted this year in the John Lewis advert, featuring a man on the moon who is alone on Christmas Day.

Older people are significantly more likely to suffer from social isolation because they have lost friends, family, have no income and are not mobile enough to get out.

The summit will be held at 9am on 8 December and run by the Medway Health and Wellbeing Board at Gillingham FC.

Cllr David Brake, Medway Council’s Portfolio Holder for Adult Services, said: “Nobody is immune to being isolated.

“We hope to learn more about how and why people find themselves socially isolated and how that impacts on their health, but more importantly discuss ways to help them reconnect to their communities.

“We need to utilise the energy and skills from within the community because there is untapped resource of people who could potentially volunteer and improve their own wellbeing while improving the wellbeing of others.”

Medway Council’s Public Health team will also launch a new information guide for older people called Stay Connected which will give contact details of a variety of organisations that can help people keep in touch with their communities as well as enjoy activities in Medway.

People can also access a new website, mymedway.org, which can help people find details on care services and information on events and volunteering opportunities across Medway.

Other population groups at risk of social isolation include carers, refugees and those with mental health problems.

The key risk factors for loneliness include being in later old age, particularly over 80 years, on a low income, in poor physical or mental health and living alone or in isolated rural areas or deprived urban communities.

It is estimated that across the present population aged 65 and over in the UK, that 5%-16% are lonely and 12% are socially isolated.

If this estimate was applied to Medway this would result in an estimate of 4,698 people over 65 years old being socially isolated and between 1,958 and 6,264 people being lonely.

 

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