Islwyn MP Chris Evans has this week signed a pledge to help tackle loneliness in his constituency, after attending an event held by the Jo Cox Commission on Loneliness in Westminster.
Research by Age UK found that around 10% of people aged 65 and over say they are chronically lonely. Furthermore, 200,000 people in this demographic said that they had not had a conversation with family or friends for a month. The same research suggests that people who identify as lonely are more likely to develop mental health conditions, such as anxiety and depression.
Jo Cox set up the Commission on Loneliness with 13 organisations, including Age UK and the Co-Op, shortly before her murder last year. The Commission is continuing her legacy by raising awareness about loneliness and working to try and reduce the stigma of being lonely.
The Commission and its partners also work to raise awareness of loneliness in other demographics, including children, refugees, parents and those with disabilities. As Jo herself said, “Young or old, loneliness doesn’t discriminate”.
It is often linked with changes in our lives; moving to a new place, having a baby, retirement or redundancy, disability or ill health, becoming a carer or the end of a relationship.
Mr Evans, who frequently attends coffee mornings and afternoons in Islwyn with his elderly constituents, said:
‘Loneliness is a big problem particularly for elderly people who are sometimes less likely to use new technologies to keep in touch with friends and family, but it can affect anyone.
‘A simple visit or phone call to friends and family members can have a positive effect on their mental and physical health if they are lonely. It costs nothing and yet it means so much.
‘I would strongly encourage anyone who has elderly friends or family who live alone to catch up with them. It could make their day.’