Annual funding of €3 million should be put towards combatting loneliness in Ireland, the Loneliness Taskforce has said.
It has launched a report, A Connected Ireland, which has made a number of recommendations aimed at dealing with this issue.
The Loneliness Taskforce was established by Dr Keith Swanick in collaboration with Seán Moynihan, CEO of ALONE, the charity that supports older people to age at home. Its aim is to coordinate a response to the current epidemic of loneliness and social isolation in Ireland.
Recommendations contained in the report include:
-Annual funding of €3 million to be spent on combatting loneliness
-A public campaign to highlight the issue
-Better support for organisations and initiatives that are tackling this problem
-Undertaking Irish-specific research on this topic.
The taskforce received over 300 submissions from members of the public, volunteers and politicians in both the Republic and Northern Ireland and these were used in the drawing up of the report.
According to the taskforce's chairperson, Dr Swanwick, while the goal of reducing unnecessary loneliness and isolation is a challenge, ‘it is achievable'.
"As a nation, Ireland is ageing, with the percentage of people over 70 growing faster than the rest of the population. However, it was very evident from the submissions that loneliness is not confined to the old and the rise in single-person households, plus the increased pressures on young people, are also contributing to the risk of loneliness," he commented.
Meanwhile, Mr Moynihan called on all members of Government ‘to not just read this report, but to act on the recommendations made'.
"The submissions to the taskforce included hundreds of ideas for recommendations to the Government to address loneliness. The level of interest in the work of the taskforce shows how vital this issue is to the people of Ireland.
"We have recommended that €3 million in funding be provided annually to alleviate loneliness, but this is just the beginning. We need research, campaigning, and support for initiatives which address loneliness to be implemented now and for the foreseeable future," he said.
Members of the taskforce include Prof John Hillery, Prof Brian Lawlor, Dr Eddie Murphy, Sabrina McEntee and Sinead Dooley. The report was launched in the Royal College of Surgeons in Dublin.