Shadow Minister for Social Care, Janet Finch-Saunders AM, is using National Loneliness Week to highlight the thousands of people suffering from isolation across Wales.
Loneliness isn’t particular about who it impacts. It affects the elderly, the young, men, women, and people from all walks of life.
It can be an aching sadness, all the way to a debilitating health concern, and it isn’t getting any better.
In Wales, a Welsh Government National Survey from 2017-18 unveiled that 16% of people in Wales at the time were found to be lonely.
The worst-affected are often older people. With Wales already having a larger older population than any other part of the UK, a trend that is set to intensify, the Older People’s Commissioner has said that loneliness amongst older people is reaching epidemic proportions.
Older men in Wales, according to The Royal Voluntary Service, are the loneliest group in the whole of the UK. And it is estimated that 8,666 older people in Wales spent Christmas Day alone last year.
But it’s not just the elderly. Statistics from The Young Women’s Trust show that almost a third of mothers aged 18 to 30 have feelings of loneliness and isolation.
This serious health concern is linked to feelings of low self-esteem, anxiety, depression, insomnia, lack of appetite and confusion.
Loneliness Awareness Week supports hundreds of informative events and connection opportunities across the UK.
Commenting, Mrs Finch-Saunders said:
“We must do more as a country to combat the spread of the desperate sadness loneliness brings.
“We’re on the cusp of a loneliness crisis in older people in Wales, but we must also remember the young people, single parents, service veterans, disabled people, those suffering from long-term and mental health problems, and everyone else vulnerable to isolation.
“I urge the National Assembly to work together to address as a priority this public health issue, to improve the health and wellbeing of Wales.
“This is a daily reality for thousands, and could impact any one of us at any time. We must act now to turn the tide on this avoidable and heart-breaking dilemma.”