Embargoed release until: Tuesday 1 February 2011

Contact: Caroline Bernard on 07760 191579 (and out of hours) or on 1 February Lili Hoag 0787 555 9161.


Five organisations are joining forces to fight isolation and loneliness in older people, which research suggests is as great a threat to health as smoking and as much of a threat as obesity.

The Campaign to End Loneliness is being launched on February 1st by Independent Age, Age UK Oxfordshire, Counsel and Care, and WRVS and is funded by the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation.

A YouGov poll carried out by the Campaign’s launch found that fewer than 1 in 5 people have ever seen or heard information about loneliness as a health risk and fewer than 1 in 3 who work in the health and social care professions have. This hidden public health threat often goes untreated and it is vital that health professionals are alert to the two-way links between poor health and loneliness and are able to make connections in diagnosis and treatment.

The Campaign is also today publishing Safeguarding the Convoy – A call to action from the Campaign to End Loneliness, inviting others to join the Campaign and take action to end loneliness and future proof forthcoming generations of older people against it.

Andrew Barnett, Director of the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation, the Campaign’s founder funder, said: “Loneliness is something which affects us all but older people are particularly vulnerable to becoming isolated, through loss of friends and family, loss of mobility or reduction in income. We need to consider not just the practical but the emotional and psychological implications of growing numbers of older people within our communities.”

Laura Ferguson, Director of the Campaign, said: “As we launch the Campaign to End Loneliness today, we want to raise awareness of the serious risks of loneliness. These risks are not being treated as an important enough problem for public health.

“Ending loneliness requires mutual responses: responsibility shared whether we are simply acting as individuals, or as part of the wider civil society, or are in authority at a national or local level.

“The problems of loneliness and isolation need to be put on an equal footing with any other condition associated with ageing. Ending loneliness should be part of the solution to the challenge of reforming care and support.

“Action is needed now to end loneliness. We look forward to developing strong partnerships with other committed groups to tackle this blight on society that is threatening the lives of older people today.”