Illustrated by Austin Watts.
A new campaign reveals the startling statistic that over 10% of the U.K. population are chronically lonely. What's more, the campaign to end loneliness reveals that this saddening situation has a health impact, too. The effect of feeling lonely is on a par with smoking 15 cigarettes a day. Sobering stuff.
This campaign — and the stats it discloses — is focused on the elderly populace. But, it is upsetting to know that over five million men and women claim the television as their sole companion.
Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt comments on the campaign: "Failure to offer friendship to the isolated and elderly is a national shame…We know there is a broader problem of loneliness that in our busy lives we have utterly failed to confront as a society…Each and every lonely person has someone who could visit them and offer companionship.”
How has it come to this? Yes, we all lead busier lives (it seems) than our grandparents once did. But, is that a good excuse for not staying in touch with our elderly relatives or reaching out to isolated members of our community? This writer lives in a near-permanent state of guilt about not speaking to her 87-year-old granny enough. No more. It is time to reach out and speak to our grandparents at least once a week. No grandparents? There are plenty of organisations where one can "adopt a granny" or volunteer to meet and work with the elderly. After all, this country doesn't need or want any more Eleanor Rigbys, does it? (The Mirror)