The loneliness challenge
The Government has recognised that loneliness is one of the greatest public health challenges facing this country. Tackling it will need action on many fronts, but its relationship to deprivation shows one way we can make a difference.
One of the most consistent findings in research about loneliness is its relationship to low incomes.
Age UK’s analysis of a substantial longitudinal study in England found that older people are nearly two and half times more likely to be lonely if they have money issues that prevent them doing the things they want. One of the reasons for this is because they cannot afford activities they would otherwise enjoy, and which could help tackle feelings of loneliness.
However, poverty is about more than a simple lack of money. The effects of poverty add up over a lifetime. Whether people feel their neighbourhood is welcoming, and if it has things they want to do, are also key components of loneliness. People with low incomes are also at greater risk of poorer physical health. This, in turn, is a serious risk for loneliness.
How Pension Credit might help
Sometimes, people getting the money they are entitled to can make all the difference. One of Independent Age’s supporters, Veronica, talks about how Pension Credit meant she could keep access to a car. That car is her lifeline to staying connected to others. She shares that if she didn’t have that, she would rely solely on her TV, and the characters on there, for company and connection to the outside world: “Receiving Pension Credit takes a tremendous amount of anxiety out of your life.”
Some of the causes of loneliness need responses that will have an effect over the long term. When there is something staring us in the face that could help now, we need to act.
This is why we at the Campaign to End Loneliness see Independent Age’s Pension Credit campaign as so important. If people get the benefits to which they are entitled then they will be more able to have the friendships and relationships that give meaning to our lives.
Robin Hewings is Director of Campaigns, Policy and Research at the Campaign to End Loneliness
Have you been affected by any of these issues?
If you have been affected by any of the issues described in this blog, or simply need someone to reach out to, you can call Independent Age’s freephone Helpline for information and advice on 0800 319 6789.
The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the policy or position of Independent Age