By Wendy Abiri and Mariamu Fundi
The lack of governmental support has seen an increase in charities initiatives such as BuddyHub, an social enterprise created by Islington resident Catherine McClen. She sets up a social network for the older people to be matched with volunteers according to their interests, likes and dislikes. BuddyHub matches one elderly to three locals to accompany them in a “Friendship Wheel”.
“Older people are more at risk of suffering from loneliness,” said McClen, who said she missed a sense of local community after working in finance in London for 17 years.
“We need to get lots of people who are currently strangers to become friends.”
More people living alone
Recent figures show an increase in older men and women living alone across the UK. Statistics found by Age UK, revealed a 50% increase in the last 15 years. Government cuts to social and health care may be exacerbating the issue within the elderly community.
Within the Islington borough, two in five elderly people are said to be living alone, have found to be lonely, whereas 12% of the older Islington residents feel isolated by their community.
Age UK spoke to the BBC and said: “Cuts to services for older people are compounding the problem.” Although the Prime Minister made an early bid to make changes in order to support the elderly community, such proposals are yet to be seen.
In his speech at the Conservative conference meeting in December, David Cameron said “The care system shames our country. We will put it right.”
Vulnerable to loneliness
Contact the Elderly is a support group that organizes small tea parties for people over 75 who are living alone, and thus vulnerable to loneliness.
“The charity is always reaching out to older people who would benefit from the service, as well as referrers who know or work with older people, who can refer people to the service,” said Liam Johnson a representative of Contact the Elderly.
Six reasons to become a Buddy (from hellofrombuddyhub.wordpress.com)
- Helping and supporting other people has been proven to boost your mental well-being.
- Volunteering a little time can make you feel happier and more satisfied with life.
- Relationships with others helps to improve our mental well-being.
- Giving to others creates happy feelings.
- Giving time to others helps make time for yourself.
- Giving your time to others will reduce stress.