1. ITV Report

Dancing the loneliness blues away

Strictly tearoom - combating loneliness with a few dance moves Credit: ITV News

Research has shown that around 10% of all over 65s in the UK experience chronic loneliness every day.

In a place like Exeter that's 2,000 people - or 7,000 in Bristol.

Social isolation and loneliness have a detrimental effect on health and wellbeing. Studies show that being lonely or isolated can impact on blood pressure and is closely linked with depression.

There are a number of initiatives are up and running to tackle the problem such as a tea dance in Exeter.

Making steps to meet people Credit: ITV News

Older people are particularly vulnerable after the loss of family and friends. A tea dance can be a way to meet someone.

I was widowed fourteen years ago and about 05 I met another young gentleman well he was older than me but he was a nice dancer but he died four years ago and I though well I can either stay at home and feel sorry for myself or I could come out and mix with friends and that's what I have done and I thoroughly enjoy it.

– Pauline Wellaway

We'd both been advised by Age concern that we needed to get out and we'd both been widowed fairly recently before and they suggested that it would be nice for us to get out and go dancing.

– Barbara & Stanley Milford

Research has shown that lacking social connections has the same risk factor for early death as smoking 15 cigarettes a day,

I mean people are living longer and that's great. It's wonderful but it's only wonderful if people have got a good quality of life. People are living longer and it means we're seeing more older people living alone.

– Martin Rogers, Age UK Exeter

But what if you are housebound and can't get out to a tea dance or similar event?

An army of readers ready to lift the spirits of older people with a few pages a week Credit: ITV News

The Silver Listeners project started in Cornwall but is now thriving in Torbay. Children telephone a Silver Listener and then read them a short story. This not only helps the children to become more confident in their reading skills but also links them to older people in their community.

Well it's nice to be able to help somebody isn't it? Especially when you're house bound you know - if you don't go out and meet people. So if you can do a bit of good sitting here, why not?

– Peter Wormald

Myself I'm sat here and I'm doing nothing and getting that phone call makes me feel good that I've done something for a child.

– Brenda Martin

As the UK's population rapidly ages, the issue of acute loneliness and social isolation is one of the biggest challenges facing our society. A tea dance and a weekly phone call are two small ways that have a big impact.

Watch the full report here: