Action needed to tackle damaging impact of loneliness at Christmas

It is easy to forget the real meaning of Christmas when you have a healthy and unite family during the festive season. But we cannot forget those who suffer because they have nobody to share the holidays. It is touching to read that LONELINESS is a hidden predator that preys on vulnerable and disadvantaged families, particularly at Christmas, according to a new report by national charity Family Action.

loneliness family action Report Main Photo

The report, No More Lonely Christmases, argues that the conventional image of loneliness or isolation – of an older person living on their own – does not tell the full story and that some families can feel intensely isolated too.

A snapshot survey of frontline Family Action workers, carried out for the report, found that:

· 59% of families referred to Family Action support workers show signs of, or have discussed, being lonely or isolated

· 92% of support workers say isolation and loneliness have a significant impact on the quality of life of families who use our services

· 73% of support workers regard loneliness and isolation as a key challenge for service users at Christmas

· 76% consider loneliness and isolation to be more of a problem during the Christmas period than at other times.

Failure to tackle isolation can have a significant impact on an individual’s health and well-being, and increases the risk of destructive and costly family breakdown.

The key to preventing and overcoming isolation and loneliness, the report says, is to intervene early with individual, social and community support to give people someone to talk to, the confidence to ask for help when they need it and the opportunity to form stronger social bonds and constructive relationships.

The report calls for extra investment in effective intervention services which recognise and mitigate the costly symptoms of loneliness. It gives examples of services already provided by Family Action which support mothers with post-natal depression, young carers, families requiring intensive support and adults experiencing mental health problems.

Waiting People Bench Journey Loneliness

This report demonstrates how failure to address social isolation and loneliness at an early stage just stores up problems for the future. Problems that will inevitably require longer term and costlier interventions down the line.

The report contains a message of hope in showing how a little help at the right time can make families happier and stronger – not just at Christmas or for a few short weeks, but all year round and for years to come.

The full report is available from www.family-action.org.uk.

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