Older people from across Fermanagh met with The Commissioner for Older People for Northern Ireland, Eddie Lynch, last week (19 March) to discuss the topic of loneliness and social isolation.

Around 30 older people took part in the workshop organized by the Commissioner’s office, where they gave their views on loneliness and social isolation; what they believed were the main contributing factors and what could be done to help combat it.

Speaking about his visit, the Commissioner said: “Loneliness and social isolation are two of the most significant issues for older people in Northern Ireland.

“There are a variety of factors which contribute to a person’s loneliness, many of which were raised today, including issues around a lack of transport or finances to get out and about; extended family members moving away or indeed the feeling that families are too busy to keep in touch.

“A common viewpoint today was that society in general is less accessible, for example, we had many comments in relation to the use of technology and social media and the fact that so many people today in cafes or on buses are too busy looking at their phone to have a conversation - there is less and less opportunity for face to face time and human interaction.

“Everyone in society has a part to play in helping to combat loneliness and people shouldn’t underestimate the difference that a smile and a little conversation can make to someone’s day.”

The workshop is part of a series organised by the Commissioner’s office on loneliness and social isolation. The next workshop will take place in Derry/LDerry on Tuesday 26th March.

“As part of my engagement strategy, I am keen to gain a wide range of views from older people across Northern Ireland on this important issue. As our ageing population continues to grow, it’s important that we work together to create a positive society for older people to live and be part of.”