Loneliness & Isolation

In partnership, the Working Group aims to identify, develop and test ways of improving the quality of life of older people who may be lonely and isolated and are at risk from declining health and wellbeing. In particular, the Group encourages work to identify and engage those who are hard to reach in the community by:

  • Encouraging small group working on new research or pilot models
  • Sharing knowledge and new findings relevant to our purpose of alleviating loneliness and isolation
  • Collaborating to enhance the work of their own organisations.

The Improving the Lives of Excluded Older People working group has merged with the Loneliness & Isolation working group. There was much overlap between the issues covered by each group and it was agreed they could be addressed more effectively through combined effort. While often associated with material deprivation, disadvantage and disability, older people who are socially-excluded are also isolated and very often feel lonely. Practical action to improve the lives of isolated and lonely older people should encompass those who are also socially-excluded.


A Message from the Chair

Shelagh Marshall. Chair of Future Years

Shelagh Marshall. Chair of Future Years

Shelagh works closely with the Campaign to End Loneliness, and is a significant influence on strategy and raising awareness of current published research. She is committed to ensuring best practice and current research are shared and used as widely and effectively as possible within the Age Action Alliance network, and beyond.

Shelagh was awarded an OBE in June 2014 for her work with the elderly.




Current Focus

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Our Chair, Shelagh, is now designated an Ambassador for the Campaign to End Loneliness and has delivered 12 workshops across Yorkshire and Humber to raise awareness of:

  • Situations which may lead to people becoming lonely
  • Ways to prevent loneliness
  • Negative impact on an individual’s health.



Popular Resources

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Spotlight on Older People – 20th March – 23rd April 2017

Alliance Product

Chat Mats from Coffee Companions really are for anyone, anywhere at any time – especially when mind reading doesn’t work. However, some people will feel nervous or daunted by the idea of sitting there with a Chat Mat on their table waiting to see if someone will join them – that is why Coffee Companions also includes the notion of Companions Hour. Locations that register via the website will be listed so that those either living in or visiting the area can see who is particularly happy to welcome new and existing customers wanting to chat. In the longer term this will have a nominal monthly cost to encourage locations to keep their listing up to date (we don’t want someone to pluck up their courage, perhaps venture out for the first time in a while, and then be turned away) but for the next 3 months (at least), locations can ‘give it a go’ for FREE with no long term obligation.

  • For the location this may be a way to fill the empty tables at a time that is normally quiet.
  • For individuals this can provide a stepping stone to something more – new connections or a place to eat when cooking is unappealing.
  • For groups this might provide a chance to talk to potential new members, chat through ideas with a new group of people, or simply provide a focus for a group outing.
  • For business locations this might provide an easier alternative that arranging a full on Randomised Coffee Trial.
A sense of humour can become hidden if there is no one to share it with. Following a conversation about ageing at a Companions Hour one of the regular attendees dug out the poem ‘When I am an old woman I will wear purple’ to share. The following week one of the older regulars came along dressed from head to toe in purple! When locations register they get a window sticker to help let people know the time of the Companions Hour. This can provide a reason for a local community listing which may be free, and we are happy to share information on social media, and in our other press coverage, to help build the impact for all. We also provide some disposable Chat Mats for giving out to customers at any time – some put them on the tables between the salt and pepper, others put them by the sugar, and yet others give them out at the till as they serve customers. Whatever approach is taken we love to get feedback to share with others and develop our thinking. During a Companions Hour conversation turned to books that individuals were reading. This created interest in trying authors and genres that individuals had not tried before. It became a feature of this group that as they finished a book they would lend or give it to others creating common interests across the age gap of over 50years. Some have pointed out that coffee can be expensive or not to everyone’s taste. Anything that brings people together is encouraged, even a glass of water. Where cost is an issue then a great initiative called Suspended Coffees might be the answer. They suggest a small act of kindness in the form of those that can afford a coffee to ‘buy one forward’ for someone that can’t. The possibility of a location combining both initiatives so that everyone, regardless of income, can have a coffee and a chat is truly exciting. Caroline Billington
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Latest Thinking

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Why might GLORIA prove a hit with UK audiences?

Ditch the stereotypical obsession with zimmer frames, stair lifts, memory loss and mortality. It is the film about a 50-something woman starring an unknown teacher which captured the imagination of the jury and cinema-goers alike at the 63rd Berlin Film Festival earlier this year resulting in Paulina Garcia winning the coveted Best Actress award.    […]