Loneliness and isolation is not only a problem with older people in our society, but this is the group that Reality Theatre decided to work with when embarking on their most recent project with Derwen Housing. ‘Telling Stories’ has now come to an end and I am in the process of writing up the evaluation report for this project, whilst seeking funding to develop and expand the project to allow us to work with even more older people in Newport.
I don’t think anyone really cares…
Why do we wish to continue? Because there is a need. A need for these people to be recognised, to have a voice, to be treated as equal members of society. Yes, the Welsh government is tackling the problem of loneliness and isolation and we are lucky to have assembly ministers like Jayne Bryant AM who genuinely cares about the issue and works passionately to improve the situation. However, when government agencies are spending years on investigating and researching the problem, in order to write a report that is not due until 2019, this means that actual strategies may not be put in place until much later…which is no use to the current body of older people that we now have in our midst.
So how do these older people feel? “I don’t think anyone really cares”, says one resident, who has been attending forums and meetings for two years to advise and support government and organisations. “It’s the same old thing. Meetings, then more meetings, and then nothing ever gets done.”
Organisations like Derwen Housing are doing a brilliant job at supporting older people, and Reality Theatre has loved working with them. What is needed now is a more immediate government strategy to be put in place to recognise the immediate needs of what is becoming an ignored and in some cases invisible group of people.