Working locally against isolation

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Gatwick Airport Community Trust and, community focussed organisation, Horsham Matters support local charity in their work to tackle loneliness in older men in Horsham District Gatwick Airport Community Trust awarded one of their grants to local charity Age UK Horsham District.

Sonia Mangan, the Charity Chief Executive said: “Our local team of over 40 dedicated volunteers are carefully matched to some of the loneliest and most isolated older people in the district and make home visits to them on a regular basis, providing companionship and support over a cup of tea and a chat. These visits not only provide friendship to combat feelings of loneliness and isolation, but the volunteers also spend time on building up confidence and supporting people to renew social contact and connections in their communities.

This vital service is free to use and thanks to support from Gatwick Airport Community Trust and Horsham Matters in 2016, this service currently continues to provide indispensable support to local people who are at risk of chronic loneliness.”

She went on to say: “A new analysis by Age UK reveals 550,000 men over the age of 65 in England are lonely and this figure is set to increase as statistics show numbers of older men living alone increasing dramatically over the next 15 years.

“As a local charity we will continue to need the support of local community organisations, volunteers and grant donors like Horsham Matters and the team at Gatwick Airport Community Trust to sustain what is already in place and alleviate the problem of loneliness among our growing ageing population in future.”

Loneliness has a serious impact on health According to the local Charity partner, Age UK, the risk of loneliness and isolation appears to increase with age, and among those with long-term health problems and/or disability.

Mounting evidence shows that loneliness has a serious impact on our health – which in turn can lead to greater reliance on health and social care services. Around a million (10%) older people are ‘chronically lonely’ at any given time in the UK. Not only does this have implications for people’s mental health, research shows that it can be as harmful as smoking 15 cigarettes a day and it also increases the risk of conditions including dementia, high blood pressure and depression.

There are clear reasons behind the high numbers of lonely older people, according to Age UK - families are more geographically scattered due to factors such as the changing job market; working families live busy, hectic lives; and as more of us use electronic communications, older people risk feeling very left out if they can’t join in.

If you would like to find out more about receiving volunteer home visits, becoming a volunteer yourself or how you can help support Age UK Horsham District please contact them on 01403 260 560 or info@ageukhorshamdistrict.org.uk, or visit: http://www.ageukhorshamdistrict.org.uk/

Contributed by Age UK Horsham District

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