Loneliness Worse for Health Than Obesity

PLEASE NOTE THIS STORY IS DATED MARCH 2014 – THE GRANT SCHEME IS NOW LONGER AVAILABLE. 
Manchester is pioneering projects to beat loneliness as new research shows that being isolated in later life could be worse for your health than obesity.
Leading experts at a recent US convention heard how feeling cut off from others can push blood pressure up into the risk areas for heart attacks and strokes, raise the risk of depression and weaken the immune system.
During the American Association for the Advancement of Science’s annual conference in Chicago delegates heard the health implications of isolation based on the results of major research projects. One of the projects – which looked at almost 150 studies involving more than 300,000 people – found loneliness to be twice as deadly as obesity.
The warnings come as Manchester looks at ways of addressing the twin challenges of an ageing population and an increasingly fragmented society.
Manchester’s three Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) are now providing £550,000 to charity and community groups that help reduce loneliness in the over 50s.
Voluntary and community groups have until 6pm on Tuesday, March18 to bid for small grants of £500 – £10,000 or main grants of £10,000 – £50,000 for services or support which can prevent isolation and improve quality of life.
Applications will be judged by a panel comprising staff from the three Manchester CCGs (north, south and central); The Age Friendly Manchester team at Manchester City Council, Manchester Older People’s Reference Group and the charity Macc which works with voluntary and community groups in Manchester.
Dr Bill Tamkin, chair of South Manchester CCG, said: “Loneliness can have a crippling effect on people – it makes them withdrawn, under-confident and far more prone to depression and physical illness like heart disease and high blood pressure.
“Projects that offer the hand of friendship and a way into social activities can have a life-changing effect on people who have been bereaved for example, or who live on their own.”
In November last year lobbying group Campaign to End Loneliness announced findings from a national survey where three quarters of family doctors reported that one in five patients a day attend their surgery primarily because they are lonely. And, three million people over 65 said they are lonely.
For further information about funding applications (including joint applications) for the Manchester CCG project contact Anna Tate at Macc on 0161 834 9823 or email anna@macc.org.uk. More details can also be found on the home page of www.manchestercommunitycentral.org.
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For more information please contact NHS Greater Manchester Commissioning Support Unit on 0161 212 4885 or email communications.gmcsu@nhs.net.
Notes to editors
Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) are NHS organisations led by local GPs and other health care professionals who are responsible for deciding how the local health budget is spent.
There are three CCGs in Manchester: North Manchester CCG, Central Manchester CCG and South Manchester CCG.
All GP practices in the city are members of one of these groups. They are responsible for planning and paying for services within each area. This includes planned hospital care such as operations, rehabilitation services, urgent and emergency care and most community services such as district nursing or physiotherapist, mental health services and learning disability services.