By 2020, in Birmingham, almost 57,000 people aged 65 plus will be living alone. Nationally, the number of people who report feeling lonely has more than doubled since 1980.
Human company is vital to our happiness. Without it, we are more likely to experience a decline in physical and mental wellbeing. Recent studies demonstrate links with stress, lower self-esteem, disturbed sleep, cardiovascular disease, dementia and other mental health outcomes. Loneliness is said to have the same effect on a person’s health, equivalent to that of smoking or alcoholism, and more severe than not exercising or obesity.
Communities up and down the country are making a difference to isolated people’s lives and in Birmingham, you may have seen the “Permission to Smile” campaign, promoting a shift in our ‘keep yourself to yourself’ culture and a restoration of community spirit.
The Ageing Together Week is for citizens in Birmingham who want to take steps to reconnect with their neighbours, to help make their street and community a better place.
Whatever age, or idea, if you would like to get involved with Ageing Together Week, there will be a suite of materials that have been created and placed on www.ageingbetterinbirmingham.co.uk/AgeingTogetherWeek
Children can make postcards to post to their older neighbours, there’s tips on how to share a neighbourly cup of tea, and if you’re part of a social group you can post your activity on our events listing!
The week is organised by Ageing Better in Birmingham which is part of the National Lottery funded Ageing Better programme. It is set up by the Big Lottery Fund, the largest funder of community activity in the UK. Ageing Better aims to develop creative ways for people over 50 to be actively involved in their local communities, helping to combat social isolation and loneliness. It is one of five major programmes set up by the Big Lottery Fund to test and learn from new approaches to designing services which aim to make people’s lives healthier and happier.