Phil Wilson MP visited projects that are tackling isolation in later life to raise awareness of these vital services. He is encouraging those who are feeling isolated to get involved in the host of activities being offered across the county whilst also pressing for further financial support to keep these services going.
Phil visited the ‘Over 60’s Project’ in Trimdon Village Hall and Age UK County Durham’s Meet, Play and Eat Group in Newton Aycliffe.
The ‘Over 60’s Project’ in Trimdon delivers a range of activities to those in later life, from flower arranging and sugar craft workshops to sound therapy sessions. All the activities are free of charge and include a free meal.
Meet, Play, Eat provides an opportunity for older people to socialise, try a new activity and enjoy a good lunch in good company. Taking place on the first Friday of each month at Oak Leaf Sports Complex, there are a whole range of enjoyable activities to try out including Archery, Indoor Bowls, Table Tennis and Guided Walks.
He said of the visits.
“Seeing the services delivered and the enjoyment that those attending are finding has been fantastic, as was learning to bowl. There were people there from a wide age range and backgrounds and the thing that struck me most was the sense of friendship and community. I would encourage anyone to go along and have a go.
“Loneliness causes untold personal suffering, it also has an impact on other areas such as mental and physical health and life expectancy. This can be costly, not just to families and individuals but to council and health services.
“I recognise the many strains on budgets that our councils are facing, but we must see this as a priority. I am thankful for all that charities like Age UK County Durham and Trimdon Village Hall are doing to tackle this issue and I hope their work is continued to be supported going forward.”
There is thought to be more than one million people aged over 65 who are lonely in the UK, around 10-13% of older people. Age UK statistics highlight that in Sedgefield constituency 5,825 people aged 65+ live alone and 1,170 people aged 65+ say they are often lonely.
Harriet Gibbon, Chief Executive Age UK County Durham said “Loneliness is a major public health issue affecting many older people. National research shows that one in four older people in the UK are lonely, whilst our own local research found that 37 per cent of older people in County Durham consider the television to be their main source of company. We know from talking to older people that they really value activities and services where they can meet other people in a friendly and welcoming environment. I’m delighted that Phil Wilson is supporting Age UK ‘s Age Friendly Places campaign, helping us to raised awareness of the need to create communities where older people can enjoy life and feel well”.
Age UK’s Charity Director, Caroline Abrahams, said:
“Loneliness is certainly not inevitable in later life but it remains a widespread issue that blights the lives of far too many older people, casting a long shadow over their quality of life.
“Not only does loneliness make later life unbearably miserable, it’s awful for our health too. We know that lonely older people are more likely to suffer health problems and to require long-term care, have a higher use of medication and need to visit their GP more often.