Blog: Why social isolation and loneliness is a challenge for us all by James Gillgrass

Social isolation is a growing challenge in Croydon and elsewhere.

Often this affects people in the later years of their life. But loneliness can occur at any age. People with disabilities or suffering from a long term illness sometimes find they lack support from family, friends, neighbours and their community.

Croydon Opportunity and Fairness Commission’s own research indicated many people feel lonely in Croydon. In a survey, we found that 18% – almost 1 in 5 – feel they are isolated or would want more of a network of family and friends.

No-one wants to live a lonely life, cut off and disconnected from others. But social isolation also has a broader social and economic cost – people who are isolated are more likely to have poor health outcomes and therefore to need help from health services.

We want to do something about this. The solution must lie in building strong social networks, so more people know their neighbours and others in their community. That will help us build more connected, healthier lives for everyone in Croydon.

We have suggested some ways to deal with social isolation, including:

· developing a comprehensive map in the borough to understand where there are the highest levels of social isolation;

· support for social prescribing and projects that link residents and care or community organisations;

· making tackling social isolation a focal point for future volunteering initiatives;

· using tenancy agreements to facilitate better support between neighbours; and

· making tackling social isolation a joint commissioning priority for Croydon Clinical Commissioning Group and Croydon Council.

We now want to hear your views on how we can face up to the challenge of social isolation.

To get in touch Tweet us on @OppCroydon, email us on contact@opportunitycroydon.org, or give us a call on 0800 612 2182.

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