New bid to tackle loneliness in Dorset

New bid to tackle loneliness in Dorset

Published by Justin Gladdis at 8:01am 24th March 2019.

Do you make the effort to look out for others like your neighbour?

We're all being encouraged to do our bit to help tackle loneliness.

The message comes from county councillors across Dorset.

The problem is thought to be widespread and is believed to be as common in busy towns as in small villages.

County councillors believe hat informal support seemed to be better in close-knit areas and that small amounts of funding to community groups could go a long way towards tackling the problem.

Portland councillor Katharine Garcia said that on the island people looked out for each other and would quickly draw new residents into conversation and find out whether or not they might need help.

Cllr Bill Trite from Swanage said that it was noticeable that there were more problems of loneliness and isolation in the well-heeled areas of the town than in communities where families had often lived for years in more modest housing.

A council loneliness survey, completed by more than 400 residents, found most respondents had high levels of loneliness especially in younger age respondents, males, bisexual and gay/lesbian women. Levels of loneliness were also said to be higher for carers compared to non-carers and for internet users, although non-internet users were more likely to be emotionally lonely.

But the committee was warned that the findings should not be taken to be indicative of the whole county and it was mostly filled in by those who considered themselves to be lonely.

The distribution of respondents to the survey shows a higher proportion from West Dorset and Weymouth & Portland and the lowest from Purbeck.

Weymouth councillor Clare Sutton said that although there were support groups she wondered how people found out about them – especially if they seldom ventured out : “Perhaps we need some kind of central directory,” she suggested.

She said her experience had been that small voluntary groups, based in communities, often offered the best service: “We all need to up our game… a small amount of money, with little red tape, to these groups is very effective.

Cllr Bill Trite said that just that had happened in Swanage where Link Visiting had been set up with the help of a small amount of initial funding and had gone from strength to strength: “the most effective is to be as local as you possibly can be,” he said.

Committee chairman Cllr David Walsh said that individuals could be lonely, even if they were surrounded by people: “We’ve got to get back almost to the Blitz spirit…it’s down to communities to resolve these issues,” he said.