Over 60 people gathered at Belfast’s City Hall on 27 March to attend the ‘Are you lonesome tonight?” seminar to share experience and examine issues raised by the Big Lottery funded HOPE project.
The seminar arranged by Engage with Age and funded by the Big Lottery and Belfast City Council heard from keynote speaker Professor Mima Cattan, Northumbria University, who has written extensively on the issue of social isolation and loneliness in later life. Dr Cattan said,
“Loneliness can affect anyone at any time and in any place. The tragedy for older people is when their social connectedness declines through ill health or loss leading to chronic loneliness.
An older person who sees no one and has no one to talk to day after day, week after week has lost their personal social value, which most of us take for granted.”
Ms Cattan has carried out research which has shown that effective interventions for isolation included groups that provide educational and problem solving or targeted support activities where older people are active participants and which enhance self-esteem.
Closing the event, Claire Keatinge, Commissioner for Older People said,
Friendship, company, feeling part of something, taking up or going back to hobbies and interests, being valued and making a contribution are all hugely important to older people.
Too often older people are particularly vulnerable to loneliness and isolation – friends may have died, family may live far away, poor mobility or ill health make it harder to get out and about, and reduced income can make participation difficult.
Being lonely is miserable, frightening and bad for health and wellbeing
The HOPE project is a great example of the determined and practical steps that Engage with Age have taken to find older people who are socially isolated and may be lonely – and to offer them a range of ways that this can change
The benefits are clear both to the older person and our wider communities. Improved health and quality of life, volunteering, reducing dependence on health and social care are seen again and again
Loneliness and social isolation damage older people – the HOPE project is really making a positive difference”
” The HOPE project has worked with over 200 older people over the past 2 years including a significant number of men in their 50’s, who are particularly isolated. The project offers friendship and fun through activities planned with older people, from fishing and furniture restoration to cooking and cinema”
“Just ask the lonely”…….. lessons learnt from the Engage With Age BIG Lottery funded HOPE Project 2012 – 2014