A MUM-of-one who used to catch the bus just so she could chat to someone is helping lift the lid on loneliness.
Gill Stafford, 68, lives in Abergele with her 30-year- old son who has cerebral palsy and uses a wheelchair. Gill is his sole carer.
The retired health information and IT officer gave a frank insight into her life to mark the launch of Age Cymru’s campaign – ‘No one should have no one – tackling loneliness and isolation in Wales’. The charity believe that Wales could soon be facing a “loneliness epidemic” among its older population if local authorities do not take action now to tackle the problem.
Gill, who moved to Abergele from Chirk after her husband died two years ago, said: “In Chirk I could go days without speaking to a soul. I used to catch the bus just so I could speak to someone – it’s a good way to have a conversation.
“Here in Abergele, people are friendlier and a walk in the park means I meet and greet several people who reply back. However my social situation still means I experience loneliness as I have no friends or relations within several hours journey.”
Gill said that activities, that she would like to access, are rarely on at the times she is able to leave her son.
“I can leave my son home alone for several hours on the one day of the week he has support, but this is again a lonely time for me,” she added.
Gill has been able to expand her life by volunteering with Abergele Boccia Club – a sport similar to bowls which was originally designed for people with cerebral palsy. She now runs the club.
Age Cymru is calling for the causes of isolation and loneliness among older people to be addressed as a national public health priority.
Ian Thomas, Age Cymru’s Chief Executive, said: “While the effects of this isolation may not be immediately obvious, being lonely can increase the risk of high blood pressure and cardiovascular disease and most worryingly there is a proven link between loneliness, depression and suicide.
“With our ageing population, this situation will continue to get worse and there will be a national isolation epidemic in Wales unless we take steps now and tackle isolation as a national public health priority.”