The cost of living crisis – what it means for our loneliness epidemic, and what we’re doing about it

The cost of living crisis will plunge the UK further into a loneliness epidemic. With millions of people without any spare income to spend on social interaction – particularly over the winter when household bills are expected to rise the most sharply – many are at risk of falling into even deeper isolation, loneliness and disconnection from their communities.

36% of people in the UK already say they feel lonelier than they did before the pandemic. We now know that 62% of the UK population are worried that the rising cost of living will meaningfully impact their social life this winter, according to a new poll conducted by Opinium for The Cares Family.

This is a huge concern. People who experience social isolation are significantly less resilient and able to adapt during times of crisis and severe loneliness can increase the risk of early mortality by up to 50%. Loneliness can also lead to strokes, heart attacks, depression, dementia and other mental and physical health issues.

That’s why at East London Cares we are doing everything we can to help make sure no one is left behind.

This coming winter, we will adapt our programmes to respond to this crisis. We will:

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  • Extend the hours of some of our Social Clubs and host clubs at regular times and consistent locations – so that people have access to regular, warm and affordable ways to connect;
  • Offer more substantial, free refreshments than we currently do at our Social Clubs and partner with food banks to offer food vouchers for those who need extra support;
  • Host outreach coffee mornings and other events, where we will work with community partners to share advice about staying warm and well, and to ensure that older people in particular can access any benefits they may be eligible for;
  • Partner with local food charities to offer new, practical experiences for older and younger neighbours – such as cooking demos and low-cost recipe swap clubs;
  • Distribute warm items to those who need them
  • Send a monthly email or letter to our older neighbours to share details of local community events, activities and other useful services in the community;
  • Keep all our activities completely free for the people who are part of them.
Sinead Wilkinson

Posted by Sinead Wilkinson on Thursday 8th September 2022

Sinead is the Love Your Neighbour Programme Coordinator, connecting older and younger neighbours through one-to-one friendship in Hackney and Tower Hamlets.