It can be a lonely business supporting lonely people. We know many of the services and groups we talk to across the UK are working in isolation. It’s understandable, for many organisations, networking can be low down the priority list when weighed against shrinking budgets, overworked (or no) staff, and increasing numbers of people requiring help. But you’ve told us that it can be really helpful to meet face-to-face and talk about the work you are doing.

Last week we held the first of a new type of event to bring together those supporting older people to hear about the latest research in loneliness, and learn from each other. We want to do more to make sure that you are receiving the best information, research, case studies, and advice that is available.

For the first of these new events we invited Professor Christina Victor, from the University of Brunel, to present the initial results of an on-going research project looking at how loneliness changes as people grow older. So far her research has showed that:

  • Loneliness can be a self-fulfilling prophecy – if you expect to be lonely in later life, you probably will be.
  • 40% of widows are lonely (but some actually become less lonely when they are widowed).
  • Loneliness is a fluid experience – someone who might feel lonely one month, won’t necessarily feel the same three months later.
  • Older men are just as lonely as older women.
  • Older people from BME communities are particularly vulnerable to loneliness.

A wide range of organisations were represented – including neighbourhood groups, charities, churches, councils and housing associations – and this lead to lively discussions on the implications of this research, and diverse examples of how you are already working to reach people at risk of loneliness.

Our space was very limited on the day, and we know that many more people would have liked to attend. With that in mind we filmed the event and made a note of what was discussed by attendees:

  • You can watch a short summary of the day here
  • You can look at what the groups discussed here
  • You can watch a video of Christina’s presentation in full here

Please watch this space for our next event. All our supporters will receive advance notice of events we are planning, so if you’re interested make sure you’ve signed-up here: