Jo Ivens: Highs hopes for loneliness minister
At Impetus, we welcome the appointment this week of Tracey Crouch as the new government loneliness minister.
Following the death of Jo Cox, the Prime Minister made a promise to tackle the issue and we hope the minister will deliver on that.
According to the Jo Cox Loneliness Commission, around nine million people in the UK say they are ‘always or often’ lonely. It’s a national epidemic and Brighton and Hove has one of the highest rates of loneliness in the UK, a fact that can so easily be lost amongst some of the city’s vibrancy.
Impetus is a multi-award winning Brighton and Hove charity supporting people in the city since 1999. We help people who feel lonely or socially isolated because of age, disability or poor mental or physical health. Our work means that we know the scale and complexity of the issue. More widely, our city has a thriving voluntary sector also tackling the issue and who have lots of expertise to offer. We hope that the loneliness minister will take time to speak with us.
Seventy per cent of the people Impetus helps say that isolation is the most difficult aspect of their lives. Loneliness and isolation make people more prone to depression, put them at higher risk of developing a disability, increases risk of cognitive decline and is linked with suicide in older age.
At Impetus, we offer a range of community support including befriending, advocacy and social prescribing; supporting more than 800 people city-wide every year, with 400 trained volunteers who provide 14,000 hours of support. Our volunteers and service users tell us the benefits of the services we provide.
One said: “It’s a lifeline. Some mornings I feel so miserable. I don’t know what I would do without her!”
Another said: “I am rather lonely and it gives me a sense of purpose to visit her”
You can take action now by getting involved with the work we do at Impetus. We have several volunteering opportunities and you can also sign up for our e-newsletter online at: www.bh-impetus.org
Follow us on social media, on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter @BHImpetus.
Jo Ivens is the CEO of Brighton and Hove Impetus, a befriending charity that aims to tackle loneliness and isolation in the city.