Virgin London Marathon 2013 charities unite generations to combat isolation
According to new research which highlights the extent of loneliness amongst older people, almost a third (32%) of grandparents aged 65+ in Great Britain only see their grandchildren once a month or less. The figure is released today by joint official Virgin London Marathon charities Age UK and YouthNet, which have joined forces to tackle isolation and loneliness across generations.
Key findings show that almost a third (32%)ii of older people only see their children fortnightly or less and over a fifth (21%)iii see close friends just as infrequently, although feelings of isolation were eased by having regular contact with young people. One in fiveiv older people aged 65+ who always feel lonely admitted that loneliness is more difficult to admit to than other issues such as health, money and relationships. A separate study shows that younger generations are also affected, with (19%)v of young people ranking loneliness as a top fear for the future alongside debt and money worries.
The findings come as Age UK, the leading UK charity for older people, and YouthNet, the pioneering online young people’s charity, call on runners to take part in this year’s Virgin London Marathon to raise money for a new service which will see young volunteers help isolated older people to get online, bringing generations together to tackle loneliness and isolation.
The charities are setting up a digital service which aims to offer isolated older people the chance to learn how to use the internet and take advantage of ways to stay in touch such as email and online chat, as well as saving money and finding out about new hobbies. Younger people will be given the opportunity to develop their confidence and learn new skills to share their digital experience with older people in their local communities.
Michelle Mitchell, Charity Director General of Age UK said: “We already know that loneliness affects over a third (34%)vi of people aged 65+ in Great Britain. Modern day life means that more people live further away from loved ones so seeing older relatives regularly can be increasingly challenging. By bringing older and younger people together in their local communities through a new digital service we hope to go some way in helping to reduce isolation and loneliness across the generations.”
Emma Thomas, CEO of YouthNet, said: “There is so much that young people can contribute to society and helping older people to benefit from online and connect with their families so they feel less isolated is a great example of this. YouthNet has harnessed the power of the internet to connect young people with their peers for 16 years, so we’re excited to be able to take this expertise and share it with a different generation to improve many more lives.”
As official charities for the 2013 Virgin London Marathon, Age UK and YouthNet have approximately 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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
If older people are 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 people can also find out how to contact their local Age UK. Alternatively visit www.ageuk.org.uk.
People aged 16-25 who need support around any issue can get anonymous, expert advice online through YouthNet’s guide to life, www.thesite.org.