A new campaign to raise awareness of the issue of social isolation in Northamptonshire and the impact this has on people s health and wellbeing is being launched.
Called Get Connected, the campaign includes a week of activities (18th to 24th April) aimed at helping people become more connected in their local communities
Social isolation and loneliness are increasingly recognised as having significant impacts on health and wellbeing, both mental and physical. Put simply, people with stronger social relationships and connections are likely to be healthier and happier than they would otherwise be.
There is also evidence that people who are lonely are more likely to access services such as visiting their GP, being admitted to hospital or requiring social care support.
Loneliness and social isolation are linked but are not exactly the same thing. People can be isolated (have little or no contact with other people or society) and not feel lonely. Alternatively people can feel lonely even if they have regular contact with others.
The causes of both loneliness and social isolation can be complex. National research from The Campaign to End Loneliness has identified a variety of potential reasons such as poor public transport, unfriendly physical environments, lack of facilities, population turnover, crime and fear of crime. Other identified factors are more to do with individual circumstances, such as being in later old age (over 80 years), low income, being in poor health, living alone and widowhood.
A study carried out by the county council in 2015 found that some rural communities could be home to people who were isolated or lonely. It also highlighted that loneliness and isolation was highly likely in urban environments too, with the most vulnerable households most often in the larger towns in the county.
County council cabinet member for public health and wellbeing Councillor Robin Brown said: Get Connected is about raising awareness of social isolation and loneliness in Northamptonshire whilst also highlighting some of the ways people can become better connected with their local communities.
It is difficult to accurately know who is experiencing social isolation in the county and what impact it is having on their wellbeing but by increasing the profile of this issue we can start to better understand how it is affecting local people.
Anyone interested in finding out more about activities available that week can visit www.northamptonshire.gov.uk/getconnected or visit their local library.
The Get Connected campaign is led by Northamptonshire County Council in partnership with a number of local organisations including Age UK Northamptonshire, Voluntary Impact Northamptonshire, Northamptonshire Acre and Northamptonshire Carers.