Responding to warnings by Jane Cummings, Chief Nursing Officer for England, of the potential “lethal” combination of loneliness and winter, Chairman of the Local Government Association’s Community Wellbeing Board, Cllr Izzi Seccombe, said:
“Loneliness is a major public health concern, affecting people of all ages, with studies suggesting it can be as harmful as smoking 15 cigarettes a day.
“The impact of loneliness can be devastating, both physically and mentally, especially during the winter months.
“Councils across the country have programmes and initiatives in place to tackle loneliness and work closely with voluntary organisations and faith groups to support isolated people in the community.
“During winter, they have teams checking in on many elderly and vulnerable residents to make sure they are okay.
“But councils can only do so much, and we would urge communities to be on the look-out for each other.
“It could be something as simple as a quick knock at the door to check on a neighbour, who could be a young mother without any family nearby, or an older person who lives alone.
“This could make a major difference and potentially save lives.”