Aberdeen has today been named the loneliest place in the UK as a new campaign to tackle the problem gets under way.
Message of Hope will involve letters and pictures written by children being put into NHS prescription bags and distributed to the elderly across the country.
Well Pharmacy has today launched the initiative, while publishing a study that names the Granite City as the loneliest city in the UK.
It comes just a week after the body of an Aberdeen pensioner was found in her home years after she died. The alarm was raised after she missed her Covid jab. Her elderly husband had said she was abroad.
The tragic story has led to calls from north-east MSP Liam Kerr for the introduction of a national loneliness awareness campaign.
He said he would “press the SNP Government to take action on this.”
Young people helping to put smiles on faces
Meanwhile Well Pharmacy’s campaign – backed by former Blue Peter presenter Radzi Chinyanganya – aims to reach out to elderly people, many of whom have been shielding for the best part of a year.
Mr Chinyanganya said: “Loneliness is something that affects so many people, especially our elderly community. This has been massively exacerbated due to the necessary lockdowns over the past twelve months.”
“This week would have been the Sir Captain Tom Moore’s 101st birthday and he reminded us about the power of the elderly community.
“I am honoured to be part of Well Pharmacy’s initiative, enabling young people to help put a smile on the faces of old people, simply with their imagination and putting pen to paper.”
The top 10 loneliest cities, as identified by Well Pharmacy’s research are:
Research by Well Pharmacy highlighted the extent to which restrictions over the last year have affected the bond between grandparents and grandchildren.
Prescription delivery service vital for many – but reduces chances to chat
Almost a third (29%) of parents were surveyed saying their children have not had any contact with their grandparents during lockdown.
Teachers and parents are being encouraged to share the Messages of Hope on social media using the hashtag #messageofhope.
Seb Hobbs, chief executive of Well Pharmacy, said: “There has been a massive increase in the number of people who have chosen to have their NHS prescriptions delivered to their homes over the last 12 months.
“While this service supports the government’s stay at home message, we understand that for many people the simple task of picking up a prescription also provides the opportunity for social interaction.
“I am incredibly proud of the role community pharmacy has played in supporting the health of people across the UK over the past 12 months.
“We are proud to launch the Message of Hope campaign, enabling children across the UK to let those affected by loneliness know that we are thinking about them.”
To take part in the campaign and share your child or pupil’s message of hope, visit their website.