Red Cross team leader Claire with Gwyneth
Recently, the Welsh Government published their strategy on loneliness and isolation.
Kate Griffiths, British Red Cross Director for Wales said:
“We welcome the Welsh Government’s strategy on loneliness and social isolation as a good first step, but we continue to call for lasting measures to help tackle the issue. We hope that the initial three-year grant funding announced today will lead to longer term commitments strengthened by firm and ambitious funding in the upcoming budget.
“The Red Cross has supported thousands of people struggling with loneliness in Wales to regain their confidence, overcome anxiety and re-engage with their local community. However, our experience shows us that it is vital for support to go beyond information and signposting. Most people who are lonely need one-to-one person-centred support to grow their confidence and independence before they are ready to take part in community activities and re-establish relationships. The Welsh Government’s strategy needs to better recognise the importance of ‘community connectors’ or ‘social prescribing link workers’ in tackling loneliness.
“We welcome the Government’s commitment to embed the consideration of loneliness across policy-making and look forward to working with them and others on influencing and developing the longer-term solutions to tackling loneliness and social isolation.”
According to research carried out by the Red Cross in 2019, almost one in five people in the UK report feeling often or always lonely, with many struggling with their physical and mental health as a result.
81-year-old Gwyneth from Caerphilly had become house-bound and isolated following knee surgery. The operation had major impacts, physically and mentally.
She said: “It’s on your mind all the time: how long you are on your own for, and how lonely you can be without help. You think to yourself: is this how my life is going to be now?”
With support from the Red Cross, Gwyneth was able to make small steps back into the community. After eight weeks, she regained her confidence, taking the bus on her own and going into the town centre to meet her friends. She said: “I’ve had wonderful support from the beginning. Every step was different, and I gradually built up confidence. It has made a big difference.”
The Red Cross is urging politicians to remain united in the fight against loneliness and social isolation.
It makes the calls in ‘Building Resilient Communities’ a report which sets out the charity’s aims for 2020, its 150th anniversary year. The report sets out practical steps which would bring about changes in policy and practice to help ensure that the most vulnerable are better protected.