Last week the government announced the appointment of a new Loneliness Minister, a move which I wholeheartedly welcome.
It’s an issue which affects millions of people every day – even me. I think its important for us to remember that anyone can be affected by loneliness at any stage of their lives.
The BAB programme was created to find ways of reducing the loneliness of those people who for whatever reason, can’t meet people and who often struggle to leave the house on their own. For them, loneliness isn’t a “stage” but a life sentence.
Loneliness can be subjective and difficult to evidence. Some people may have visits from 5 care professionals a day and still feel lonely. We try and measure this by asking people if they get the type and quantity of social contact that they want.
We believe our activity so far is making a real difference to local people here in Bristol.
Bristol Community Navigators launched in September offering free signposting and support to people over 50 who want to feel less isolated and more involved in their community. Community Development projects work in different parts of the city to connect older people and provide the right support for them to feel like an active part of their community.
Elsewhere within BAB we also fund Community Kick Start; a great example of small projects through which little changes or actions in community can have a big impact on the support and contact that older people can access.
The BAB programme is about more than just trying to tackle isolation and loneliness. It is about developing learning and evidence that proves approaches which work for older people who are lonely and isolated. We’re committed to sharing all of our learning, and you can see a range of materials on our website with new ones popping up each week. We have recently launched the monthly BAB Learning Update email to try and better share this and national learning from other areas with similar schemes.
Here at BAB welcome the appointment of a Loneliness Minister – it’s important for all of us to acknowledge this issue and to identify what part we can play in tackling it. My personal experience and my work with BAB means that I do now make an effort, getting to know my neighbours and always finding a new person to talk to on the bus – a small step that all of us could take.
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