The World Health Organization (WHO) has declared loneliness to be a global issue and has launched an international commission to combat it. The new commission will run for the next three years and will look at how loneliness and social isolation can affect physical, mental and emotional health. Those leading the new commission into loneliness say investment in rebuilding the social fabric of society must be given the same level of investment as other global health concerns, such as tobacco use, obesity, and addiction.
Echoing the sentiment that loneliness and isolation impact quality of life in older age is England’s Chief Medical Officer Professor Sir Chris Whitty.
In his annual report, Professor Whitty says that people living longer than a century ago is "a triumph of medicine and public health", but the emphasis must be on quality rather than quantity. He remarked that people should adopt "old-fashioned" methods to stay healthy, including exercise, mental stimulation and a social network.
Our own research points to the positive difference our services make to older people who often live without family and friends for support, or a close community to lean on. Between April 2022 and March 2023, we saw a significant reduction in feelings of loneliness amongst older people accessing our services. The number of older people who ‘often or always felt lonely was 67% lower than before they joined Re-engage and the number who ‘often’ felt they lacked companionship had fallen by 70%.
86% of the older people we spoke to agreed that joining Re-engage has had a positive impact on their life, with 97% saying that they are treated with respect and as equals by Re-engage volunteers and staff. 85% had made friends because of Re-engage.
Our five-year strategy focuses on a vision where no one is ever too old to make friends and enjoy social interaction, and our mission is to work within communities to end social isolation and loneliness in older people. We look forward to continuing working with older people, supporters and volunteers to make life less lonely for thousands of older people every year.
All about activity
Read how our activity groups offer older people a gateway to movement and companionship.
Advent of Change 2023
We’re proud to be part of this year’s Advent of Change Christmas campaign. Read more about this important initiative and how you can be involved.