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  1. ITV Report

Dogs could be used to tackle loneliness epidemic in the South West

For the first time an NHS trust has partnered up with a charity to provide elderly people with dog visits. Credit: ITV West Country

The use dogs to help tackle loneliness is being explored in the West Country.

Social isolation is as damaging for a person's health as some long-term illnesses, according to medical experts.

10,000
people over the age of 80 in Bristol live on their own.

It's estimated that around 10,000 people over the age of 80 in Bristol live on their own.

Many go at least a month without talking to another human being.

For the first time an NHS trust has teamed up with a charity to offer home visits with dogs to older people suffering from social isolation.

This is now being explored in our region as a way of helping those who experience loneliness in their daily lives.

If you are struggling with loneliness - or know someone who is - here is a list of some of the organisations that can provide support, advice and guidance: