Loneliness is bad for your health, it reduces life expectancy and is not isolated to older people says a report published by Healthwatch Devon (HWD).
What Healthwatch Devon did
Over a period of two years, Healthwatch Devon invited representatives from local government and the voluntary and community sector (VCS), as well as our members and supporters to contribute to this work around social isolation and loneliness.
This was with a view to help frame the debate about how people can be empowered to, give space for discussion and help people prevent this problem occurring in their own lives and that of those around them.
Following Devonwide discussions, in January 2019, representatives from Devon’s Health and Wellbeing Board, which oversees the strategic delivery of health and social care services in the county, have signed an ambitious Charter to end loneliness.
Healthwatch Devon used several methods to connect with people in Devon: face-to-face, online and in print format.
• 5,500 surveys were placed with 220 different organisations, along with feedback boxes
• Participated in 37 community events
• 45 people, representing 42 voluntary groups attended focus groups organised with Clarity CIC
• Over 50 people attended our Devon Campaign to End Loneliness Conference
• 25 people representing various church groups and organisations attended our Loneliness Conference, organised with Diocese of Exeter
• 22 people entered our photo competition
• 2,402 people visited our Loneliness web pages
The top 3 factors 477 respondents felt caused loneliness in themselves or others:
• life events and trauma
• personal circumstance
• psychological responses
The top 3 interventions that help people feel less lonely were:
• Spaces where people can be with others
• One off community events and opportunities
• Social group drop ins e.g. coffee mornings
Healthwatch Devon recommend a cultural and organisational response to loneliness at a strategic level, with the aim of promoting the benefits of place-based community and friendship to support people in Devon.
This report is being distributed to Clinical Commissioning Groups, NHS trusts, partners and members; has been presented to the Health and Wellbeing Board (September 2018) and will be presented at the Healthwatch England Annual Conference in Stratford Upon Avon on Thursday 4th October.
Healthwatch Devon would like to thank people in Devon, Clarity CIC, Citizens Advice Devon, DEVA, Diocese of Exeter, EXETER CVS, Both NHS Clinical Commissioning Groups, Devon Libraries Unlimited, Public Health Devon, GP services in Devon and The Right Worshipful the Lord Mayor of Exeter for their support.
Image: Ignored by Ken Holland, Winner of the photo competition we ran during 2017. We asked members of the public to send in images of what loneliness meant to them along with any supportive text they felt explained the images.