New findings from the Welsh Government National Survey on loneliness confirms that feelings of loneliness show a strong relationship with well-being, and that lonely people reported much lower satisfaction with life.
The Deputy Minister for Health and Social Services, Julie Morgan, said:
Loneliness and isolation are feelings that can touch us at any age and any stage of our life. It’s good to hear from the survey that fewer people feel lonely, but we know that those who were already feeling isolated have felt it more strongly this year.
“Yesterday, I spoke to Desmond Hall, who is blind and lives alone. He receives a call, once a week, from an Age Cymru volunteer, Remo Sciubber. Desmond says this regular call makes all the difference for him, in remaining connected with the outside world.
The survey, covering 2019-20, showed that younger people were more likely to describe themselves as lonely than older people, as were individuals with a mental health condition or who were in poorer general health.
In spite of the Covid-19 pandemic, during May to September 2020 fewer people reported loneliness than in previous years. Data is not yet available for the winter months.
However, there is a strong socio-economic connection with loneliness, and material deprivation is a significant risk factor.
Julie Morgan continued:
We want to ensure people remain connected - this is why I launched Wales first ever loneliness and social isolation strategy, called Connected Communities. We are making the first step in helping to change how people think about loneliness and social isolation.
The Deputy Minister and Chief Whip, Jane Hutt, said:
Loneliness isn’t just about being on your own, and having no-one to share things with. It is about feeling lonely. It is about who is there for you.
Anyone can experience loneliness, but winter can be a particularly difficult time, and especially this year. Connecting with friends and family through the pandemic has been difficult, but many people have found innovative ways to link up through online events, or by supporting others in their community.
Yesterday I spoke to a volunteer, Remo, who makes a regular weekly call to an elderly person as part of Age Cymru’s ‘A Friend in Need’ service. This kind of call can make a big difference to someone who’s experiencing loneliness and isolation, and also to the volunteer.
“I want to thank volunteers across Wales for your hard work and support throughout this difficult year – your care and kindness has made a huge difference.
Age Cymru’s Chief Executive, Victoria Lloyd, said:
Feelings of loneliness and isolation have always been a huge challenge for older people but the pandemic has compounded the problem, especially as we approach the festive period where many would have normally met up with families and friends.
This means it’s vital that communities continue to support older people throughout the festive period and into 2021. Offering to do some shopping, pick up prescriptions or just have a chat over the telephone can help reassure older people.
This year both formal and informal volunteering has made a huge difference to older people and communities throughout Wales and has shown us all how much our communities care.