Over recent years the issues of loneliness and isolation amongst older and younger people in our rapidly changing cities have become better understood.
Loneliness has been shown to be as bad for people's health as smoking 15 cigarettes a day, and can bring on strokes, heart attacks and dementia. Two in five older people – two in five – say the TV is their main form of company. 17% see friends of family less than once a week; 11% less than once a month. And one in ten GP appointments is made by an older person with no other condition than that they're lonely.
But loneliness is not just a later life problem. On the contrary: studies show that young people are at least the second loneliest age group and may even be the loneliest.
That's why older and younger neighbours have so much to gain from one another in shared time, laughter, new experiences and friendship. And it's why we believe East London Cares is so important – because it works.
Two major evaluations over the past three years have demonstrated the impact of this model. The first evaluation of The Cares Family approach, published in 2014, showed that of older people participating in activities regularly:
It also showed that the model works because it is targeted at people most likely to benefit, including:
Crucially, the younger volunteers who are part of the programmes benefit too:
A second evaluation in 2016 underscored these outcomes, with older neighbours reporting that over time they: