Funding of £82m to reduce elderly isolation

Woman teaching man to play ukulele Image copyright Dave Charnley
Image caption Ukulele playing is among the activities being offered to older people in Middlesbrough

Funding of £82m is being distributed to reduce social isolation of older people in 15 areas across England.

The Big Lottery Fund cash is aimed at helping up to 200,000 people and testing approaches to improve services.

Projects will range from music and activity clubs to befriending schemes and awareness training.

There are 10.8 million people aged 65 or over in the UK with 3.8 million living alone, many without regular contact with friends or neighbours.

One of the partnerships being awarded funding is in Bristol, where Oscar-winning Aardman Animations will produce a Creature Comforts-style animation to help change public perceptions of social isolation.

'Ticking time bomb'

Another in Middlesbrough is to offer social activities such as walking football, target shooting and ukulele playing.

On the Isle of Wight, the money will go towards activities such as social singing therapy and projects to encourage older entrepreneurs.

Dorothy Moyer, chairman of the Isle of Wight Ageing Better partnership, said: "Recent national statistics confirmed the island's elderly are amongst the most vulnerable in England. Over 16% of over 65s live alone, 9% live in isolated rural communities."

Nat Sloane, Big Lottery Fund England chairman, said: "There are concerns about a ticking time bomb facing adult social care, but older people have a wealth of experience and skills to offer their communities. We need to tap into this - to help them help themselves and others living alone."

Laura Ferguson, director for the Campaign to End Loneliness, said: "There is a broad consensus that loneliness is a major public health issue, with lonely people much more likely to experience conditions requiring health or social care support.

"In the past it has been far too easy to ignore or sideline issue like loneliness which are about preventing ill health in the long term.

"If those in charge of health and care budgets continue to take such a short-term approach, we may see services facing growing costs and unable to cope with the demand in the future."

The areas to receive funding are:

  • Birmingham (Birmingham Voluntary Service Council) £6,000,000
  • Bristol (Age UK Bristol) £5,897,662
  • Camden(Age UK Camden)£4,494,248
  • Cheshire West and Chester (Age UK Cheshire) £5,104,190
  • East Lindsey (Community Lincs) £2,696,388
  • Hackney(Hackney CVS) £5,866,500
  • Isle of Wight (Age UK Isle of Wight) £5,725,414
  • Leeds (Leeds Older People's Forum) £5,985,918
  • Leicester City (VISTA) £4,950,784
  • Manchester (Greater Manchester Centre for Voluntary Organisation) £10,222,679
  • Middlesbrough (Middlesbrough and Stockton Mind) £5,998,248
  • Norwich(Voluntary Norfolk) £4,495,264
  • Sheffield(South Yorkshire Housing Association) £5,920,107
  • Thanet (Social Enterprise Kent) £2,987,300
  • Torbay (Torbay Community Development Trust) £5,998,032

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