I’ve been thinking a lot about loneliness. It is the scourge of modern living. The paradox is that in a time of dense population and high net migration there is a growing number of people who suffer from social isolation. It is a complex problem which cannot be solved with simplistic answers. Very few can, yet many are offered. There are too many socio-economic factors at play.
The question for me is ‘can technology play its part in helping to resolve the problem?’ Even if it is only in a small way that must be something that can be done. I raised the question at this week’s Stanley Area Action Partnership to find that many other people interested are in this area. We already have a few things going on. For example:
Derwentside Homes, through its Social Housing Enterprise Durham (SHED) has launched Silver Talk, a free telephone befriending service designed to support older people living in County Durham and prevent social isolation and loneliness by enabling them to cope with life changing events. Trained volunteers offer a listening ear and social interaction along with support and advice on a regular basis to each customer.
Social Isolation Navigator Service, Stanley (SHAID) provides support to people throughout the Stanley area who feel lonely or isolated and unable to socialise with other people in their community. It works with individuals on a one to one basis to help them find and access services or groups which best suit their needs.
The question for me is ‘what else can be done?’ (Especially using technology.) The first place would be a greater understanding of how widespread the problem is. I am not aware of any data which could help though I imagine many organisations have their own. My suggestion would be to start with trying to bring all of that together and so this is where I will place my efforts. It got some good traction at the meeting and even had the young Police representative offer some support from the cadets.
Let’s see what happens.