New group aims to tackle effects of feeling lonely

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People in Eastbourne who suffer from the effects of loneliness will now get help thanks to a new group that has formed in the area.

At an East Sussex County Council meeting on Thursday, October 23, councillors voted in favour of forming a new, cross-party reference group with the aim of ‘helping people to help themselves’.

Councillor John Ungar brought the motion to the table at the County Council meeting having recognised the importance of eradicating loneliness.

The Lib Dem councillor said, “I brought this motion because I want this to be pushed up the council’s agenda to a point where real work can have a real effect on something that is crippling many people here in East Sussex. It is known that feeling isolated can disrupt sleep, raise blood pressure, weaken immunity, increase depression and lower subjective well-being. Doctors have quantified the effects of loneliness , warning that lonely people are nearly twice as likely to die prematurely as those who do not suffer feelings of isolation.

“ I believe being lonely is a lot more worrying for your health than obesity. Mother Teresa once said, ‘The biggest disease today is not leprosy or cancer or tuberculosis, but the feeling of being unwanted, uncared for and deserted by everybody’.

“We are told that 13 per cent of the older population and 12 per cent of young people reported feeling lonely. In tackling loneliness, the first step must be for the council to look at itself to see if any of its policies are compounding the problem.

“At the same time we need to be talking with partners and looking at how together we can work to address and mitigate the impact of loneliness. Many of our partners are already carrying out good work to address the issue of loneliness and their work is to be welcomed and, where it can, supported by the council. In future, we should join with them to further address and tackle loneliness to mitigate its devastating effects.”

“I will be monitoring what work and if there are any failings, I will not hesitate to bring this to councillors’ attention.”