Over a third of older people feel lonely, says new research
Virgin London Marathon 2013 charities unite generations to combat isolation.
Over a third (34%)[i] of people aged 65+ in Great Britain feel lonely, according to new research out today from Age UK, the leading UK charity for older people, and pioneering online young people’s charity YouthNet. As joint Virgin London Marathon’s official charities, the two organisations are joining forces to tackle loneliness and isolation across generations.
The charities are calling on runners to take part in next April’s race to raise money for an innovative new service which will see 700 young volunteers help 10,000 isolated older people to get online. Younger people will be given the opportunity to develop their confidence and learn new skills by sharing their digital experience with older people in their local communities.
The research also shows that older people aren’t necessarily lonely for geographical reasons: on average we’re all just 126 stepsii iii iv v – or 65 metres – from someone aged 65 or over who is feeling lonely. Similarly, young people are facing huge challenges which can lead to isolation in today’s tough climate such as high unemployment and negative perceptions of youth
The Internet is a vital tool in tackling isolation and loneliness; over a quarter (28%vi) of people aged 65+ who admitted to feeling lonely said that keeping in contact with family and friends via the web helped relieve feelings of isolation. 70%vii of young people aged 16-25 said they use the internet every day to contact friends and family.
Age UK and YouthNet are aiming to strengthen communities, offering isolated older people the chance to learn how to use the Internet and take advantage of ways to help stay in touch with family and friends such as email and online chat while also reaping the benefits of online services such as online grocery shopping.
Michelle Mitchell, Charity Director General of Age UK said: “Living in isolation and loneliness is a stark reality for too many people in later life, and feelings of loneliness can have a significantly adverse effect on physical and mental well-being.
“This new service is an important step in helping to reduce isolation and loneliness, by bringing older people and younger people together in their local communities through internet training sessions to help open up new worlds both on and offline.”
Emma Thomas, CEO of YouthNet, said: “This unique project will help tackle isolation across generations, giving young people the opportunity to take their passion and understanding of the digital world and share it with a different generation. There is so much that young people can contribute to society, and helping older people become more internet savvy is a great example of this.
“For 16 years, YouthNet has been creating digital solutions that support young people and connect them with their peers, helping them support one another. We are delighted to be working with Age UK so that young people can help older people to benefit from online connections.”
As official charities for the 2013 Virgin London Marathon, Age UK and YouthNet have 350 guaranteed places and are looking for people with their own place in the race to also join the team. For more information and to find out how you can join ‘Team Run for It’ (Age UK and YouthNet’s Marathon team) and take part in the Virgin London Marathon 2013 please go to www.runforit.org.uk or call 0800 169 87 87 or email email@example.com.
If anyone is suffering from loneliness or feeling isolated, help is available from Age UK’s free advice line on 0800 169 6565. Lines are open from 8am to 7pm, seven days a week, where you can also find out how to contact your local Age UK. Alternatively visit www.ageuk.org.uk.
If you’re 16-25 and need support around any issue, you can get anonymous, expert advice online through YouthNet’s guide to life, www.thesite.org.
Ref: SM, SK, YouthNet all,
For more information on Age UK or for celebrity interviews please contact Karen Richards on 0203 0331428 or email Karen.Richards@ageuk.org.uk.
For more information on YouthNet call Katy Miller on 0207 2505779 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Notes to editors
i, vi, vii TNS Global survey for Age UK (August 2012), 65+ (930 GB)
iv TNS Global survey for Age UK (August 2012), 16-25 (1289 GB)
iii Office for National Statistics; “Estimated resident population mid-2010 by single year of age and sex,” (2011)
iv Office for National Statistics; “Local authority population statistics, mid-2010,” (2012)
v Oberg, T; Karsznia, A; Oberg, K (1993); “Basic gait parameters; Reference data for normal subjects, 10-79 years of age,” Journal of Rehabilitation Research Vol. 30 (2): pp, 210-223
i Older respondents (65+) who are considered to be lonely expressed loneliness to some degree. Those who responded to a question about whether they felt lonely with ‘always,’ ‘often’ or ‘sometimes’ were classified in this way.
v, vi, vii For more detail on how this statistic was calculated please contact Marcus Green (details below).
For more information on the findings from the survey please contact Marcus Green on 020 3033 1406 or email email@example.com.