AgeUK Suffolk predicts that 15,000 older people in the county can go a month without speaking to a friend, family member or neighbour.

This horrible statistic came to light in the preparations for the recent launch of a new campaign by Suffolk’s health professionals, inviting people to play their part to beat loneliness; drawing attention to the fact that loneliness can affect any of us at any time. An estimated 800,000 people in England feel lonely.

The other shocking fact is just how debilitating loneliness can be – a number of studies have linked the harmful effects of loneliness to both mental and physical health; claiming the same long-term harmful effects as obesity and smoking

The campaign, entitled ‘Loneliness. Make the connection’, begins this month and kicks off a year-long focus on loneliness and how it affects people in different ways, from new parents to bereavement and unemployment. SCC’s public health team is joining forces with voluntary-sector organisations and other partners to co-ordinate the campaign, drawing attention to the support already available from befriending schemes and organised groups to telephone and on-line advice. More information about this campaing is available from www.healthysuffolk.org.uk including the ability to make a pledge, find out what support is available, read case study examples and download a range of useful resources.

I know Sundays can be especially tough going for people who live alone so I am going to do my bit to help locally. I  have offered to re launch the Stansfield Village Tea – we will meet every so often on a Sunday afternoon at the village hall for a cup of tea, chat and piece of homemade cake.