Long-term loneliness degrades our quality of life considerably and can be damaging to our health. Despite the widespread occurrence of the problem and the large human costs associated with it, we are reluctant to speak about loneliness, and this impedes possible ways to prevent and combat the problem. The Mary Foundation and the Danish Red Cross have decided to do something about this through the collaborative initiative.
The overall aim of the project is to bring people together and to strengthen them in creating strong and lasting networks. People who miss contact to other people are welcome to sign up for a network group at a local unit of the Red Cross where they will have the possibility to join social activities and strengthen their personal network.
The programme for the network groups has been pilot tested in seven selected local units of the Red Cross during the first half of 2015. The pilot phase has been monitored and evaluated by Christine E. Swane, director of the EGV Foundation (Danish foundation working to improve social inclusion of older adults) and member of The Mary Foundation’s expert panel on loneliness. Today the programme has been expanded and includes more local units around the country.
The Mary Foundation has worked with loneliness as one of its three action areas since 2011 and published a quantitative research report in collaboration with the EGV Foundation in February 2014. The report is based on 20 interviews with adults who have lived a great part of their life in loneliness. The Mary Foundation has furthermore reviewed the evidence-based research on loneliness in Denmark as well as abroad. A panel of Danish and foreign experts on loneliness has assisted and advised the Foundation in its work since 2011.
The Danish Red Cross has several years of experience in operating with social meetings and networks in their local units. The Red Cross is a humanitarian aid organization, and more than 10.000 volunteers in 220 local units are working across the country to relieve social distress and to make a difference for the most vulnerable people in Denmark.
The project builds on the experiences of the two organisations and springs from a common wish to give more attention to loneliness among adults and to support the many people who lack other people in their everyday life.
We all feel lonely every now and then; this is a natural part of life. But when the loneliness moves on from being short-lived and situation-specific to being persistent, it becomes damaging to our health and social life. Long-term loneliness is damaging to our health and can destroy our social skills. Loneliness remains an overlooked problem - despite the significant human costs.