Tracey Crouch MP with Ann Millington and Ian Thomson
Hot on the heels of her appointment as Minister for Loneliness (January 17th 2018), Chatham and Aylesford MP Tracey Crouch called in to Kent Fire and Rescue Service on Friday 26 January to meet with Chief Executive Ann Millington and Assistant Director of Community Safety Ian Thomson with social isolation at the top of the agenda.
No stranger to the community safety work that KFRS does, Tracey was very complimentary about the service and how it supports people living with dementia, she was also hugely encouraged by the different ways that KFRS supports vulnerable but hard to reach people through the Safe and Well Visits and more recently through the 'Show You Care' campaign which is calling on members of the public to spend time with people who live alone.
Around half of people aged 75 and over live alone, which is about two million people across England - with many saying they can go days, even weeks, with no social interaction at all.
• It's estimated that 40 thousand over 65s in Kent and Medway are socially isolated.
• Social isolation can and does affect anyone, of any age and can lead to mental health issues like depression and a serious decline in physical health and wellbeing.
• Research shows that lacking social connections is as damaging to our health as smoking 15 cigarettes a day.
• One study has concluded that lonely people have a 64% increased chance of developing clinical dementia.
Ian Thomson said: "It was great to welcome Tracey to KFRS, especially in the first few days of her appointment as Minister for Loneliness - which have been a very busy few days. We're grateful she made time for us, to hear how we're doing different things in Kent to try and make a difference to the lives of those people in our community who need our support, but remain very difficult to reach.
"Although it's early days in her tenure as Minister for loneliness, which sees her continue the great work started by the late Jo Cox MP, we're confident there's much more that KFRS can do to help support the issues surrounding social isolation and how we can influence others to help make a difference."