Spring 2019

HAFLS Share

Herts Steering Group Formed To Tackle Loneliness

Head of HAFLS, Chantal Lommel has stepped up to Chair a Hertfordshire steering group, which aims to pull together a Hertfordshire-wide strategy on tackling loneliness.

The steering group  has members from key organisations including  Public Health, Age UK Herts, University of Hertfordshire and CVS along with Dr Marie-Anne Essam, a champion of social prescribing

The steering group has been formed in response to the Government's strategy, ‘A connected society: a strategy for tackling loneliness - laying the foundations for change’, published on 15 October 2018 which is the first strategy for tackling loneliness in England. It marks a shift in the way we see and act on loneliness, both within government and across society. It builds on years of work carried out by many individuals and organisations, and acts as government’s first major contribution to the national conversation on loneliness and the importance of social connections. This strategy is an important first step, but the  government is also committed to long-lasting action to tackle the problem of loneliness. (https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/governments-work-on-tackling-loneliness)

To give some context to this important issue affecting society the " loneliness can kill" report statistics show;

  • 76% of GP’s report 1-5 patients per day have chronic loneliness
  • Cost to NHS £12,000 per person per year
  • Equivalent to smoking 15 cigarettes per day
  • Higher risk of heart disease, strokes, depression, dementia and suicide
  • 2-5 times more likely to die prematurely than those with strong social ties

Age UK have developed a 'heat map' of loneliness where you can see how 'lonely' people are in your local community. (http://data.ageuk.org.uk/loneliness-maps/england-2016/) This certainly helps to give a visual representation of a problem affecting people of all ages, backgrounds and family sizes, across both our county and country-wide.

As an organisation set up to provide adult learning in the community, for the community, with the community, HAFLS is keen to help tackle loneliness wherever possible.While we appreciate that we will not solve the issue of loneliness, we hope that we can go someway to help avoid it becoming corrosive and damaging to peoples' lives.

The group will meet regularly over the forthcoming months, and we look forward to bringing you an update on their work in future issues of HAFLS Share.

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