Ealing Council leads the fight against loneliness

The council and partners launched a new Loneliness and Isolation charter at Ealing’s first ever Loneliness and Isolation Seminar held at Ealing Town Hall on Friday, 18 March.

The charter sets out how the council and other agencies will tackle loneliness in the borough. Among guests at the event were representatives from Age UK, the NHS, the Campaign to End Loneliness, Neighbourly Care Southall, Ealing Community Transport and social housing groups,

Ealing’s cabinet member for health and adults’ services, Councillor Hitesh Tailor spoke at the event. He said: “There is a growing recognition of the devastating impact that loneliness can have on a person’s physical and mental health. Research shows people who are lonely are more likely to visit their GP or need residential care at an earlier point in their lives. Our vision is to make Ealing a place where older people and people in need of care and support can lead healthy, enjoyable, sociable and safe lives through the promotion of independence and active engagement.

“We heard today about the difference that can be made to a person’s quality of life simply by being able to meet up with other people and make friends. There is a lot of fantastic work in our community that is taking place such and I would like to see more people use the opportunities available through our partners, to combat loneliness. The charter is the first stage in developing this aim”

Key pledges in the charter include carrying out research to find out the true extent of loneliness in the borough; working with the NHS new staff at GPs’ surgeries trained to identify and help patients suffering from loneliness and developing a plan with partners to tackle the issue.

As part of the council’s work to reduce loneliness and isolation, Ealing provides funding towards a number of projects in the borough which offer social activities and befriending opportunities for residents. These include Age UK Ealing which runs the Restore Plus project to visit people who have come home after a long stay in hospital. The service helps people with simple exercises they can do at home and also accompanies them shopping or at social events until they regain confidence.

Neighbourly Care Southall, also receives funding from Ealing Council to offer activities for older people at its centre in Featherstone Road, as well as 16 hubs in West Ealing, Acton, Northolt, Greenford and Perivale. Activities including keep fit and computing classes and day trips.

Its chief executive, Andy Buddle was among speakers at the event. He said: “For those who are socially isolated and housebound we offer a befriending service staffed by volunteers who visit people at home. It can make a big difference to people. For example we had one lady who was depressed following the death of her husband and rarely left home. Gradually our befriending volunteer helped her to become confident enough to come to our centre to join in activities.”

Andy Nazer, from The Campaign to End Loneliness said: “Loneliness can have the same impact on mortality as smoking 15 cigarettes a day and should be recognised as a serious public health issue.  The Campaign to End Loneliness wants to see local authorities across the country taking a lead on tackling it in their communities.  So we’re delighted that one of our Campaign ambassadors is speaking at this very important event on combating loneliness at Ealing Council.”  

For information on community groups, activities and support available in Ealing visit: www.careplace.org.uk