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9 September 2014, 06:00
It's been announced that volunteers in Norwich have been granted nearly £4.5 million to help elderly people that feel alone or isolated.
Getting On In Norwich, led by Voluntary Norfolk, is one of 15 partnerships across England to get a share of an £82 million pot from the Big Lottery Fund.
The project has talked to 350 people to find out how best to improve the quality of life for older people through things like activity clubs and social groups.
The project will begin in April and is set to continue over the next six years.
Older people will play a big part in the project and will help with planning and delivering the plans to help their whole community.
In Norwich alone there are currently around 20,000 older people, many of whom face social exclusion due to ill health, poverty or the death of friends and family.
There are 10.8 million people aged 65 or over in the UK and this is expected to rise to 16 million over the next 20 years. Of those 10.8 million, 3.8 million live alone, and one million say they are always, or often feel, lonely.
Loneliness and social isolation is also thought to lead to a range of chronic health conditions and research has even suggested that it has a similar impact on survival as smoking.
Phil Wells, Chief Executive of Age UK in Norwich said: "We know that loneliness and isolation affects people's health and particularly older people that are lonely are more likely to go to hospital, more likely to need their GP, they're more likely to go into social care."
Andrew Campbell, Getting on in Norwich Project Manager, Voluntary Norfolk said: "This is a fantastic opportunity for Norwich and we are delighted our partnership is one of just 15 areas in the country to get this support. It gives us a unique opportunity to build on the work already going on in the city in a coordinated way over several years."