Age UK to partner with council on ‘rising issue of loneliness’ for elderly

Age Uk's 70th annual AGM in Mattishall.
Byline: Sonya Duncan
Copyright: Archant 2017

Age Uk's 70th annual AGM in Mattishall. Byline: Sonya Duncan Copyright: Archant 2017 - Credit: Sonya Duncan

Age UK Norfolk celebrated its 70th anniversary at the charity's annual general meeting, with a focus on the issue of loneliness.

Age Uk's 70th annual AGM in Mattishall.
Byline: Sonya Duncan
Copyright: Archant 2017

Age Uk's 70th annual AGM in Mattishall. Byline: Sonya Duncan Copyright: Archant 2017 - Credit: Sonya Duncan

The meeting was held in Mattishall on Tuesday and featured a keynote speaker from The Campaign to End Loneliness.

Laura Alcock-Ferguson spoke at the conference about the need to address 'the nuances of loneliness' as a national issue.

Ms Alcock-Ferguson added that there are one million chronically lonely people in the UK today, and spoke about the need to make this an urgent issue.

'We now know that loneliness is as bad for your health as smoking 15 cigarettes a day.

Age Uk's 70th annual AGM in Mattishall.
Byline: Sonya Duncan
Copyright: Archant 2017

Age Uk's 70th annual AGM in Mattishall. Byline: Sonya Duncan Copyright: Archant 2017 - Credit: Sonya Duncan


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'Socially isolated individuals are more likely to die prematurely.

'Our job is to get across the urgency of those health links without scaring people away.

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Terenia Morrison, from Age UK Norfolk, spoke about the charity's befriending initiative. Age UK Norfolk provided 7,644 hours of telephone befriending in 2016-17, to 239 lonely older people.

She quoted the son of a service user, who said: 'When Elizabeth [from Age UK] phones its like the electrons light up in Mum's brain.

'I love the way Elizabeth talks to her. It's so wonderful that someone cares about Mum.'

Helen Jones, chairman of the charity said: 'Personally I think it is very sad that our society has not moved forward - loneliness was an issue 70 years ago'.

She added that Age UK Norfolk is, 'proud to be a part of making Norfolk a great place to grow old'.

And Hilary MacDonald, chief executive of Age UK Norfolk, said the charity had launched five projects and gained 53 volunteers throughout the past year.

She thanked Age UK Norfolk's 'long-standing volunteers, without whom the charity would not be what it is today'.

The charity will benefit from a cash grant from Victory Housing to support their befriending service for the next 12 months. Aviva and Norfolk County Council have become service partners, and will encourage employees to use 30 paid minutes of volunteering time each week to be an Age UK telephone befriending.

Members of the public and Age UK volunteers raised concerns at the end of the meeting.

Topics included depiction of loneliness in the media; involvement of researchers at the University of East Anglia; and statistics on suicide induced by loneliness.

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