A report by the Jo Cox Loneliness Commission has claimed that being alone is as harmful as smoking 15 cigarettes a day and greatly increases the chance of premature death.
The commission has asked for the Government to fund ways to tackle what they’ve branded a “looming social crisis”. As we approach xmas, many older people are left alone with no one to talk to.
Loneliness is a year round problem but in the festive season it can be particularly troubling for people without any social contact.
Throughout 2017, the Commission has highlighted the impact that loneliness has on diverse groups. From older people to refugees, to young people to carers: it is clear that loneliness can no longer be ignored.
The health impacts of loneliness – both physical and mental – are devastating. Loneliness is as bad for our health as smoking 15 cigarettes a day, and worse for us than obesity. Chronic loneliness is cutting lives short, and the problem is growing. But, the Campaign to End Loneliness has found that for every £1 invested in tackling loneliness we can save £3 in health costs: it pays to tackle loneliness.
Chief Nursing Officer for England Jane Cummings said: “Loneliness can have a devastating impact.
“Evidence shows that social isolation increases the risk of premature death by around a third.
“Our advice is for people to keep a friendly eye on relatives, friends and neighbours.”
In a speech to the Policy Exchange think tank today, commission chairwoman and Labour MP Rachel Reeves MP is expected to say: “In the last few decades loneliness has escalated from personal misfortune into a social epidemic.
“The crisis of loneliness exposes the limits of our welfare state.
“It is a deep challenge to our models of social reform – top down, target driven, payment by results, bureaucratic, Whitehall lever pulling – they won’t work.
“We need a new kind of welfare system that acts as a convenor, bringing people together to help them help themselves.”