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Loneliness 'a growing threat to public health' with one in five people in Wales affected

Loneliness affects one in five people in Wales. Credit: PA Images

Loneliness is a "growing threat to public health" as the Welsh Government launches a national conversation on how to tackle the problem.

Huw Irranca-Davies AM, Minister for Social Care, has said "loneliness and isolation" needs to be tackled. One in five people in Wales experience loneliness, with young people most likely to be affected.

A 'national conversation' is being launched on the issue. Credit: PA Images

The Welsh Government's proposed approach to loneliness is to focus on early intervention. The new proposals will focus on key areas including, skills and employability, housing, social care, mental health, and early years.

As a government, we are committed to securing the best possible health, well-being and quality of life for all people in Wales. Preventing people from becoming lonely and isolated must be a national priority for us, because it will not only improve people's lives, but it will also help reduce demand for health and social services in the future.

I am keen to hear from people living in all parts of Wales as part of this consultation process. Working together, we can ensure our communities and the social fabric that binds them together, are as resilient as they can be.

– Huw Irranca-Davies AM

We are encouraged that the government is taking a broad view of the issues surrounding loneliness and isolation.

Our own research found that 75,000 older people in Wales have reported ‘always or often’ feeling lonely which can have a detrimental effect on people’s physical and mental health. Loneliness can also increase the pressures on our already overwhelmed health and social services.

Poor transport infrastructure, poorly designed townscapes, a lack of local amenities and facilities as well as digital exclusion can all contribute to an older person’s sense of isolation .

We need to remove such barriers that prevent older people from engaging fully with their local communities and provide support for those who are experiencing loneliness as a result of issues such as bereavement and retirement.

– Age Cymru’s chief executive Victoria Lloyd