Hundreds of lonely older people in Cornwall will be helped to become more connected to their communities, thanks to a grant of almost than £78,000 from the freemasons to Royal Voluntary Service.

The grant will fund a specially-designed programme which will provide over 200 older people in the area with new opportunities to build social connections and relationships. It will also allow the charity to give more vulnerable older people a link to the community through a Community Companions volunteer who will visit them at home, supporting them with practical help and getting out and about.

Loneliness and social isolation can affect everyone, but older people are particularly vulnerable after the loss of friends and family or reduced mobility. A report by Age UK reported that there are 1.2 million chronically lonely older people in the UK, and half a million older people go at least five or six days a week without seeing or speaking to anyone at all. Reports also suggest that loneliness is as bad for a person’s health as smoking 15 cigarettes a day and those who feel lonely are also more likely to suffer from ill health.

Surveys conducted by Royal Voluntary Service amongst older people in Cornwall found that just over three quarters (77 per cent) are experiencing loneliness and two thirds (66 per cent) feel they need more help with getting to GP appointments or social activities.

 The grant from Cornwall freemasons comes through the Masonic Charitable Foundation, which is funded by freemasons, their families and friends, from across England and Wales.

 Lisa Knight, Operations Manager for Royal Voluntary Service said:

“We’re very grateful to Cornwall freemasons for their generous grant, which will help us build on our existing work supporting older people in Cornwall, organise monthly social activities and recruit volunteers to provide companionship and practical support to older people in their homes.”

 Stephen Pearn, Provincial Grand Master for Cornwall Freemasons, said:

“I’m very pleased we’ve been able to help Royal Voluntary Service with their excellent programme of support for older people. Loneliness and social isolation is a real problem in our society, having a serious impact on physical and mental health and quality of life. Ending the social isolation of older people is a major priority for both the Royal Voluntary Service and Freemasons.”

 Mike Pritchard, Provincial Grand Charity Steward of Cornwall Freemasons added:

“Being involved and working with so many different charities within our local communities here in Cornwall, has been an absolute pleasure for me. This latest grant will be a significant boost for the Royal Voluntary Service, here in Cornwall. This will enable them to reach more individuals normally confined to their homes and socially isolated. I’m delighted this grant has been approved to assist the Royal Voluntary Service.”