Only 58% of people here say they feel connected to people in their area. The figure put us almost at the bottom of the league table – ahead only of the Germans when it comes to our unfriendliness.
The sociologist Frank Fuerdi, emeritus professor at the university of Kent, said that there had been a fragmentation of British society that had left people feeling they had been cut adrift as reported in the Times this week.
“We have neighbourhoods without neighbours, not just in the cities but in towns and villages too,” he said. “People occupy the same physical space, but not the same psychic space. Too many British people think there is no point in saying hello to someone they pass on the street every day, even though for that other person it may be very important.”
Responding in the Times, Laura Ferguson, the Director of the Campaign to End Loneliness, of which Independent Age is a partner, stated that the problem with the data published yesterday is that it can really only give us a proxy measure of the problem, because it did not measure loneliness directly, only some of its consequences. “Currently we only routinely measure loneliness among those who are in care or who are caring for others. We need the government to commit to measuring loneliness across the whole population so that we can better direct our limited local resources to tackle this issue before it develops into serious medical conditions,” she said.
If you are feeling lonely, don’t forget that Independent Age can help – we have a range of services, from one-to-one befriending, to telephone friendship groups. We have also produced a free book, Wise Guide 3: Healthy, Happy, Connected, which is full of helpful tips and suggestions on how to enjoy your later years and do what you can to stay physically and socially active. Order your free copy online here or Freephone 0800 319 6611.
On a lighter note, we’re pleased to mark the second annual National Care Home Open Day. With stories of abuse in care homes hitting the press recently, public confidence in care homes is at an all time low. In reality, these tragic cases, such as that of Orchid View which we mentioned in last week’s Good Week / Bad Week appear to represent a very small fraction, in a sector which otherwise is full of good practice, care and compassion. Throughout the day today, thousands of UK care homes have opened their doors to welcome the public, connect residents with their local communities, and change perceptions of care homes for good.
If you are considering a care home for yourself or a loved one, don’t forget that we can help. Our free book, Wise Guide 4: Choosing a care home - support and advice to get the best from your move, will guide you and your relatives through every step of the process of picking and moving into a care home. It includes tips on how to spot a well or poorly run care home, choosing the best way to meet care costs and ensuring your wishes are respected however frail you become. Order yours on the link above.
We also provide a national advice service for older people, their families and carers, advising on all aspects of social care – from getting a care assessment, moving into a care home, paying for care and much more. It is completely free to speak to one our expert advisers. Call us on 0800 319 6789 or email us.