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New research stresses benefits to society from befriending elderly

Visiting and befriending lonely and isolated people has a huge economic benefit to society, new research has found ...

Visiting and befriending lonely and isolated people has a huge economic benefit to society, new research has found.
 
A study carried out by economists Oxera looked at the economic impact made by charity the St Vincent de Paul Society (SVP), which carries out half a million visits to isolated and lonely people each year.

The study found that the SVP’s befriending work generated an estimated £11 million a year in England and Wales.
 
The research found that the SVP’s 10,000 volunteers helped isolated people improve their mental health, increase their skills and confidence, and enter or re-enter employment. This in turn equated to reduced costs to the NHS, savings to Social Services, and better quality of life both for the beneficiaries and for the volunteers themselves.
 
The SVP’s volunteers offer weekly company, as well as practical assistance, to isolated older people at home, vulnerable families, refugees and others on the margins of society. For every £1 that the SVP spends on visiting and befriending people, the benefit to society is about £3.
 
Helen O’Shea, a Trustee of the SVP, said: "We see every day at first hand the benefits of our visits to isolated people, in terms of their emotional and psychological well-being. Now we have confirmation from economists that our visits also have substantial financial benefits as well. Anyone who supports the SVP can have confidence that their donation is being well used."
 
The study was carried out on a pro bono basis, with the support of Pro Bono Economics. The full report can be downloaded from the SVP website: http://svp.org.uk/oxera

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