Loneliness and Isolation

“Loneliness is a serious health risk and we must tackle it in Swansea” – Julie James Assembly Member for Swansea West

Action needs to be taken to tackle loneliness and social isolation, which already impacts 1 in 5 people in Wales and is fast becoming a significant public health issue, says local AM Julie James

The AM made the comments ahead of the Welsh Government launching a national conversation and consultation on what can be done to combat loneliness and social isolation in Wales.

The National Survey for Wales 2016-17 found that 17% of the population of Wales, around 440,000 people, reported being lonely, while younger people were more likely to be lonely than older people: 20% of 16-24 year olds were lonely, compared with 10% of those aged 75 or over.

Loneliness and social isolation can result in a number of physical and psychological problems including premature death, sleep problems, high blood pressure, poor quality of life, increased risk of heart attack and stroke, depression and suicide. Research demonstrates that loneliness has an effect on mortality that is equivalent to smoking 15 cigarettes a day.

“Loneliness and isolation is a serious health problem that is affecting residents across Swansea. It’s not just an issue affecting old people, research shows that it affects young people too, and actually even more”

“It can have and does have a significant impact on people’s physical and mental health and preventing people from suffering must be a priority.”

“Organisations across Swansea and Wales need to work together to combat loneliness.  That is why I am asking everybody to take part”

You can take part here.

The Welsh Government has identified some areas where action can make a significant contribution to reducing loneliness and social isolation:

  • Early years – Improving an individual’s experiences in childhood will play a significant part in shaping their future, including developing strong and positive relationships later in life;
  • Housing – Ensuring people live in safe and secure neighbourhoods, in the right accommodation;
  • Social Care – Providing compassionate, dignified care plays a critical role in ensuring people can be healthy and remain independent for longer;
  • Mental Health – Ensuring people maintain good mental health is crucial in maintaining good health, well-being and independence, with access to appropriate support services when necessary;
  • Skills and employability – Ensuring people have the right skills to secure decent, sustainable employment opportunities.