More than a million older people say they go for over a month without speaking to a friend, neighbour or family member.
And despite what some people think, loneliness is not a normal part of ageing. It not only makes life miserable, it can have a serious impact on physical and mental health too.
Unless we act together, our rapidly ageing population in Portsmouth means we’ll see ever greater numbers of lonely older people and, because social isolation undermines resilience, this also means more pressure on our already stretched NHS and social care services in the city.
Older people’s loneliness really matters. I believe there is more the council and other public agencies can do to prevent and tackle it.
But it can’t just be fixed by the public sector alone – we all have a role to play: by being friendly to the older people around us; making the effort to stay in touch with older relatives; or by actively supporting local voluntary groups that help older people to make new friends.
I want to draw attention to this big issue for older people, mobilising others to help prevent and alleviate it, and encouraging us all to do more.
So this Christmas please spare a thought for those socially isolated, and let’s do something about it together.