Mayor’s bid to help tackle loneliness

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The Mayor of Liverpool is fronting a campaign to combat the loneliness of older people as it can have a dangerous effect on mental and physical health.

Liverpool Mayor Joe Anderson © Trinity Mirror

Liverpool Mayor Joe Anderson © Trinity Mirror

Statistics have revealed that loneliness increases the risk of developing dementia by over 60% and doubles the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease or a disability. It can cause higher blood pressure and depression with a higher rate of mortality, which is more damaging than smoking 15 cigarettes a day.

The Local Government Association (LGA) recently launched the combating loneliness campaign to highlight problems among older people. Following the initiative, Mayor Joe Anderson and Liverpool City Council are working with partners to provide activities and events for local older people.

The events include cabaret afternoons and holidays to stop social isolation, shopping trips so people have independence, ‘buddy schemes’ for those who have lost their confidence, training and craft opportunities and bridging the digital divide.

Councillor Gerard Woodhouse, Mayoral Lead for older people, said the £329 government cuts in 2011 and the £8 million cuts to public health last year have had a large impact on how the council can continue to deliver even the essential adult social services.

He told JMU Journalism: “In areas like Liverpool where older people are more likely to need those essential services and suffer from loneliness, not only are they the hardest hit areas by the Tory Government cuts, but also won’t receive one penny of the £300m relief fund intended to soften the impact of council cuts.”

Mayor Anderson also hopes the campaign will allow Liverpool to gain World Health Organisation (WHO) Age Friendly Accreditation, which aims to facilitate the inclusion of older persons to make the world more age-friendly.

The LGA hosted an Older People Conference yesterday at the Devonshire Hotel to hear the views of older people.

Cllr Woodhead said: “The mayor recognised that too many of our older people were lonely, with declining health and mobility, inadequate housing, reduced employment opportunities and financial problems. Many families were caring for their elderly relative without enough support.

“I heard from a lady who was lonely and vulnerable after losing her husband. We provided her with a buddy to help develop her confidence and encouraged her to come along to our cabaret afternoons.

“This lady hadn’t been out socially for years and felt afraid to even leave the house. She now volunteers at our events, helping those who feel how she used to feel – alone and afraid.”

About Kamara Samuels, JMU Journalism