Tackling loneliness and poor health in older men

We are funding a new programme to reduce isolation and loneliness among older men in Southwark - and raise awareness around common health and care issues - by reaching out to them in their local pubs.  

Research shows that loneliness can increase the risk of premature death by up to 30%. It also shows that older men are less likely to seek help – particularly around mental health issues – and in Southwark, men aged 55-65 are a high risk group with few services targeted at them.

The ‘Get healthy in the pub’ project will be run by Time and Talents, an organisation with solid experience in creating targeted programmes working with people with high levels of need, especially older people.

Our grant of £26,228 will help run weekly social groups and drop-in sessions for the first year for men aged 55 and over in selected pubs across the borough, for example, those close to areas with high unemployment levels or low rates for health checks among older men.

Managing the group will be a ‘landlord’ – an easy-going group facilitator from the same age group. They will help create a welcoming, safe social space that meets participants on their own terms and turfs. They will help to build trust, encourage friendships and use the location of the meetings as regular opportunities to discuss health and wellbeing issues including, where appropriate, alcohol consumption.

Alongside a relaxed and welcoming social atmosphere where people can come together and build friendships, there will be a chance for health services to offer light-touch information and interventions. Participants will have access to health checks on a range of issues, and the chance to have a diagnosis and be referred for common long-term conditions where appropriate. They will also have access to information on preventing and managing long-term conditions and health complications from qualified health professionals.

 

After the first year, 'Get healthy in the pub' hopes to have 50 men attending sessions. It also hopes to get 80% of those who have new health issues identified visiting an appropriate service. The ambition is to roll out to more pubs from year two.

James Murray, Head of Funding at the Charity says: "We’re really excited to help Time & Talents try out the 'Get healthy in the pub' idea. We need more activities focused on getting older men out and about, as they're particularly vulnerable to social isolation. Pubs could serve as a great venue for this and pub owners are enthusiastic about helping their local communities. So there’s a good chance that Time & Talents have hit on a low cost solution to a serious problem."

Alex Evans, Director of Time and Talents says: “Older men are amongst the most isolated people in our society, and often have few close friends and limited social networks. There are already great initiatives that target groups of isolated men, particularly those with special interests like DIY. This project has the potential to bring in those who aren’t ‘handy’ but who simply want the social interactions they experienced throughout their lives to continue, or restart."

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