Monday, 19 November 2012

Depression hits the lonely people

Loneliness ‘as risky as smoking’

Many men over 75 suffer from depression due to a lack of social contact.

That’s according to a study carried out by the volunteer service, the WRVS, which calculates some 190,000 men over 75 who live alone spend more than 12 hours a day on their own.

Samantha Acton, owner of Southbourne-based home help service Domestic Angels, says the findings are symptomatic of the loneliness crisis facing senior citizens.

“For all the good work our Angels do in cleaning people’s homes, getting shopping and running errands, it is the provision of simple human contact that is most appreciated by many of our elderly clients,” says Samantha, who is also a director of Southbourne Creative Hub, working with local businesses to promote the creative arts to benefit residents and the community as a whole.

According to the WRVS research 41 per cent of men who live alone have fewer than two face-to-face conversations a day – and a third have none. The study also claims men are far less likely than women to confide their loneliness to friends and family.

“Loneliness is a major health issue. Experts say it’s as risky as smoking and a greater risk than obesity,” says Samantha. “It’s particularly true of men. Often, when you deal with people who live alone, you can see how they deteriorate over time.

“By definition, loneliness often goes unseen. It’s not something that social services can necessarily evaluate so a regular visit from a home help service can make a real difference to the quality of people’s lives.”

The study found 54 per cent of men who admitted to feeling lonely also suffered depression, but three-quarters of them had never sought help.

Tuesday, 6 November 2012

Speaking with Angels

Entrepreneurs from across the Wessex region are continuing to contact a Southbourne businesswoman who questioned government minister Vince Cable about his credibility to advise microbusiness owners.
Samantha Acton has attracted
lots of support for her efforts to make
Vince Cable pay attention to the
smallest businesses
Samantha Acton, who runs Domestic Angels home help service, tackled the business secretary over his lack of experience of running a business with fewer than five employees.

“Microbusinesses account for 95 per cent of the businesses in Dorset and yet government ministers and the people that run business organisations have little or no actual experience of them,” says Samantha.

“Dr Cable didn’t try to hide that fact, but then reverted to a pat answer about approaching banks for funding and cutting red tape.

“If he bothered to find out about what it’s really like to run a business at this level he would be trying to do things that can really make a difference, such as raising the VAT threshold, not launching headline-making business banks that will only add to the debt burden for microbusiness owners.”

Samantha gave Dr Cable a pen which he promised to use for the rest of the month to remind him to consider microbusinesses in his policy meetings.

“Nothing I’ve seen or heard from him since makes me think he has kept that promise, but our exchange of words has certainly struck a chord across the area and I’ve had a string of messages of support.”
Heather Martyn, a director at Bournemouth- based electronic design company Ammtek, echoes Samantha’s message to the minister.
“Some of these microbusinesses are our future SMEs or, eventually, large organisations and our Government needs to be able to offer incentives to these microbusinesses to become
employers and to grow sustainably,” she says.
“Apprenticeships are a good start but don’t solve all issues. I welcome further communication with Dr Cable and his department on this subject.”