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New Campaign to End Loneliness

Laura Ferguson appointed Director of The Campaign

Four organisations are working together on a new Campaign to End Loneliness and create connections in older age. Age UK Oxfordshire, Counsel and Care, Independent Age and the Royal Voluntary Service are founder members of the campaign which has been initially funded by the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation. The campaign will work with many other organisations to provide solutions to this pressing problem at a time when our population is ageing and funding cuts will impact on the lives of older people.

In October the founder members appointed Laura Ferguson as the Director of The Campaign. Laura joins after 5 years managing a range of development projects at Volunteering England.

The Campaign to End Loneliness will raise awareness of the problems caused by loneliness and why they matter; promote what works in reducing loneliness in older age; identify gaps for further action; create a vision of a society where loneliness in older age is ended and identify what we all can do to future-proof our lives against it.

Laura says: "Research shows that 1 in 10 older people feel lonely. Loneliness can impact on physical and mental health causing further problems in everyday living. The campaign will be launched in January 2011 when we will invite organisations and members of the public to join and support its aims and actions."

"The timing of this launch is especially important as so many of the threats to local authority services will directly impact on older people and the frequency and quality of contact they have with others. It's not just about local authorities and government though - we can all do something about this hidden issue by taking small actions to create connections in our own neighbourhoods. All four founder members and the funder are thrilled to start joint action towards a vision of communities where older people can contribute, feel valued and stay connected."


Contact: Laura Ferguson at the Campaign to End Loneliness on 02070121409 or out of hours Laura Ferguson on 07554 882070

-ENDS-

NOTES TO EDITORS

Campaign to End Loneliness is a new campaign to end loneliness in older age in England which will launch in January.

Research into loneliness over the past 10 years has shown those responding as "Very/often/ always lonely" and includes research by Victor et al., 2005 (7% in this category); Harris et al., 2003 (9%); Scharf et al., 2002 (16%).

Laura Ferguson has worked in the charity sector for 10 years, including posts in fundraising and project management at the Royal National Institute of the Blind, Volunteering England and has been a committee member at a national cycling organisation. She is a previous Sheila McKechnie Award winner for Campaigners and has previously established and led a grassroots campaign to improve cycling.

The four founder members also make up the management group of the Campaign to End Loneliness and recognise the importance of working together and with others to end loneliness: a complex, very personal and often hidden issue which has knock on effects across health and wider society. These organisations are:

Counsel and Care is a national charity working with older people, their families and carers to get the best care and support. VitalLinks is Counsel and Care's new national network of befriending schemes for older people that aims to help older people, their families and carers to locate a nearby scheme and assists befriending schemes to connect with each other. The goal is to reduce loneliness and isolation by raising the profile of befriending for older people and filling the gaps in provision across England and Wales. For more information visit www.counselandcare.org.uk/vital-links or contact the VitalLinks coordinator, Kathleen Gillett, on 0207 241 8535 or email VitalLinks@counselandcare.org.uk

Independent Age is unique in providing lifelong support to older people on very low incomes. We provide information and advice, practical help and emergency financial aid through our network of staff and dedicated volunteers across the UK and Republic of Ireland. Just as importantly, we offer friendship and the chance to socialise to those who are lonely and isolated. Supported by Independent Age, thousands of older people are able to maintain their independence, contribute to their communities and enjoy a good quality of life, secure in the knowledge that our help lasts as long as they need it. To find out about volunteering with Independent Age visit www.independentage.org.uk/volunteer

The Royal Voluntary Service provides practical help through the power of volunteering, so older people can stay independent and live the way they want. WRVS is one of the largest volunteering charities in Britain powered by 55,000 volunteers who regularly provide practical help to over 100,000 older people in their homes, communities, hospitals and during emergencies. To find out about volunteering with WRVS visit www.royalvoluntaryservice.org.uk

Age UK Oxfordshire is an independent local charity with over 40 years of experience in promoting the well-being of older people throughout the county of Oxfordshire, and helping to make later life a fulfilling and enjoyable experience. To find out about volunteering with Age UK Oxfordshire visit www.ageconcernoxon.org.uk/volunteering.htm

The Campaign is supported by the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation, which is an international charitable foundation with cultural, educational and social interests. Based in Lisbon with offices in London and Paris, the Foundation is in a privileged position to support national and transnational work tackling contemporary issues. The purpose of the UK Branch in London is to connect and enrich the experiences of individuals, families and communities, with a special interest in supporting those who are most disadvantaged. It currently focuses its work on developing and supporting innovative projects and partnerships across the themes of cultural understanding, fulfilling potential, environment and maximising social and cultural value. www.gulbenkian.org.uk

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