Tackling Loneliness – Our Impact
Loneliness can affect anyone of any age, but older adults are at increased risk. There are many reasons for this, such as loneliness due to living alone, following the loss of a partner, or being unable to do the things that they want to do. We work to tackle loneliness in older adults, aged 60 or over, in the UK, through our Financial Support and Companionship in the Community projects.
Companion animals and loneliness
Companion animals can reduce feelings of loneliness, they can increase confidence and they can give people a sense of purpose, so our Financial Support project is perfect for those who would love to have a companion animal but would be unable to afford it without help. Our Companionship in the Community project is perfect for those in central Scotland who, for whatever reason, can’t have a companion animal. They can come along to our Community Space and spend time with our Companionship Dogs, they can also join one of our Group Dog Walks, where they can spend some time walking one of the dogs, as well as socialising with others and getting some fresh air and gentle exercise.
Companionship in the Community
Many people, particularly older adults, lack a sense of community in their local area. These days people generally have less contact with their neighbours, and others in their neighbourhood. Our Companionship in the Community project works to change that, with Community Spaces in the heart of a local community, we strive to create vibrant hubs where people can meet others and make friends, in a safe and relaxing environment, and where adults aged 60 or over can take part in free activities.
Measuring our impact
At the end of 2021 we created a survey to anonymously measure the impact that our projects and offerings have on loneliness. We have been collecting responses, via a link in our email newsletter, for approximately six months. The results of this survey show that those who utilise our services have decreased feelings of loneliness since Give a Dog a Bone came into their life.
Visitors to our Community Spaces tend to live relatively close to the Community Space that they visit. They report that they feel less lonely since they started visiting, they visit so that they have someone to talk to, and without this service they wouldn’t spend as much time socialising. They also report that the staff and volunteers at our Community Spaces make them feel welcome and important, and that visiting our Community Spaces has helped to improve their confidence. In addition to this, those Community Space visitors who take part in our activities report that we provide a source of regular exercise.
Those who take part in our online activities are from across the UK and may also attend a Community Space. They report that we provide a source of regular exercise, that their feelings of loneliness have decreased, and their confidence has increased since they started participating, and that the team members and instructors who facilitate and lead the online activities make them feel welcome and important.
Beneficiaries of our Financial Support project are from across the UK and have a mixture of dogs and cats, some live with just one companion animal and others live in a multi-pet household. They report that their pets are their main source of companionship, that their feelings of loneliness have decreased, and their confidence has increased due to having a pet, that caring for their pet gives them a sense of fulfilment, and that having a pet makes it easier to meet, and speak to, new people.
We have also received some wonderful feedback through this survey, in the form of additional comments. These comments expand on some of the ways that we are reducing loneliness for those who utilise our services, here are some examples:
“My life has vastly improved by being introduced to GADAB. The staff and volunteers have been very friendly. I fully support the charity and I promote it at every opportunity.”
“I attended free Spanish lessons supplied by GADAB and met two ladies on the same course with whom I have become very friendly. Since the course we have either met twice a week or WhatsApp video called twice a week all through the years since our lessons (which I think is 3 years). I would not have met my friends if it wasn’t for GADAB.”
“All staff are lovely and very welcoming and easy to talk to.”
“The Zoom sessions have made a huge impact on both my physical and mental health. I really don’t know what would have happened to me without them. I so look forward to them and meeting everybody.”