The figures published by the Office for National Statistics indicating that 1.7 million elderly widows are living on their own in the UK (your report, 1 November) are a cause for great concern, particularly as recent research by University College London, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, shows there is an established a link between isolation and early death.
At Health in Mind, our Community Connecting service is free and works with the over-65s. We hear how many people lose their zest for life and feel isolated for a variety of reasons. They may have lost a partner, suffered a fall, retired or moved to a new area. Friendships drift and, eventually, it becomes very hard to leave the house. Community Connecting works with a mini-army of volunteers who help older people to regain confidence, develop interests and make connections in their local community.
We know Community Connecting changes lives and our team is keen to do more, but to help more people, we need more volunteers. With a commitment of a one-day training course and two hours a week for four months, it doesn’t take much to change a life.
GWENN McCREATH Chief executive,
Health in Mind
Shandwick Place, Edinburgh