Next week (18 to 24 April) is Northamptonshire's first-ever Get Connected Week.
Social isolation and loneliness are increasingly recognised as having a significant impact on our health and wellbeing, both mental and physical. In fact, one study suggests that isolation can have a bigger impact on health and wellbeing than physical activity, obesity or even smoking 15 cigarettes a day!
Put simply, we know that people with stronger social relationships and connections are likely to be healthier and happier than they otherwise would be. There is also evidence that people who are lonely are more likely to access services such as visiting their GP, being admitted to hospital or requiring social care support.
That's why Northamptonshire County Council alongside other local organisations is launching Get Connected, a new campaign which aims to raise awareness of the issue of social isolation in Northamptonshire and the impact this has on people's health and wellbeing.
Loneliness and social isolation
Loneliness and social isolation are linked but are not exactly the same thing. People can be isolated (have little or no contact with other people or society) and not feel lonely. Alternatively people can feel lonely even if they have regular contact with others.
The causes of both loneliness and social isolation can be complex. National research from The Campaign to End Loneliness has identified a variety of potential reasons such as poor public transport, unfriendly physical environments, lack of facilities, population turnover, crime and fear of crime. Other factors are more to do with individual circumstances, such as being in later old age (over 80 years), having a low income, being in poor health, living alone and widowhood.
Get connected in your community
There are already many different activities, groups and sessions people can attend in their local areas where they can spend time with other people and become better connected in their local communities. Libraries also offer a wide range of activities for people of all ages to get more involved. Many of these are taking place during Get Connected Week so visit www.northamptonshire.gov.uk/getconnected to find out more or just pop in to your local library.