Loneliness, particularly amongst older people, is a growing problem. But unlike some social issues we face, it is one that we could easily tackle if we all played our part.

Although it may be hard to believe, there are some people who regularly live from day to day with no human interaction. When was the last time you went a whole 24 hours without talking to another person? It might sound like bliss as a one-off but it can have a detrimental effect on health with dementia, heart disease and depression all thought to be linked to chronic loneliness.

So what can you do?

There are dozens of volunteering opportunities for volunteer befrienders around the county which you can find over on the do-it site including Befrienders for:

RAF Association, Alzheimers Society, Carrick Mind, Silver Line, Age UK (Cornwall), Cornwall Partnership Foundation Trust, Abbeyfields Care Homes, Cosgarne Hall, Enable, PCDT, Saltash Live at Home Scheme, Foxhole Friendship Club and many others

There are also other, similar opportunities such as our own Welcome Home and Winter Friends schemes, Cruse Bereavement Volunteers, various Memory Café roles, Home Visitors for Blind Veterans, Samaritans Listening Volunteers etc

Other ways you can help, which are less formal, include through faith groups who are often very active on their local communities or community groups linked to Village Halls, Community Centres or even Town or Parish Councils.

Many of the loneliest people do not live in remote rural locations but in villages, towns and even cities. You can help through old fashioned good neighbourliness. Check in with older neighbours living alone on a regular basis. A chat over a cup of tea can be a great way of ensuring they are not forgotten or overlooked in this busy world we now live in. In particular, making sure they are ok during periods of extreme weather (ice & snow, storms or heat-waves for example) when they can be at their most vulnerable.