On Monday 15th October 2018 the Prime Minister, Theresa May, launched the government’s first loneliness strategy. The Silver Line was a member of the Loneliness Action Group, which advised on its content.
The government says it is seeking to improve the evidence base on the harm that loneliness causes, to ensure it is an issue that government departments think about when developing their policies, and to “build a national conversation” about loneliness to raise awareness of its impacts. One of the changes they are suggesting is for GPs in England to prescribe art classes, choirs, and dance clubs in a bid to combat Britain’s epidemic of social isolation.
Sophie Andrews, The Silver Line Chief Executive, said: “This strategy is a welcome step forward from the government in recognising the scale and challenge of social isolation we face as a country. The ambition that all government policies think about loneliness is commendable. However, at The Silver Line we know the challenge is significant and to make it work both time and money are needed.
Our Silver Connects team, who link up older people with their local services, take on average 15 days to resolve a case: there can be multiple reasons why older people are alone and disengaged from their local communities. Many of them won’t even go to their GP as they have lost confidence in themselves.
The government also needs to ensure that the welcome funding it provides goes into existing, proven services like the Silver Line helpline, not just new initiatives. Ensuring every pound works hard for older people is vital if we are to make progress on this issue for the millions of lonely people who feel they have no-one to turn to”.