Social isolation and loneliness: the impact of shielding in Merthyr Tydfil

ReportsResourcesJanuary 15th, 2021

Social isolation and loneliness are longstanding challenges but new report finds those who are shielding are at particular risk

Social isolation and loneliness can have adverse effects on mental and physical health. In February 2020 Welsh Government outlined its commitment to tackling social isolation and loneliness by launching the Connected Communities’ strategy. Unfortunately, shortly after its publication a Wales-wide lockdown was announced, and people were told to limit social contact and isolate.

This report examines social isolation and loneliness and the impact of shielding in Merthyr Tydfil. It sets out recommendations to support people who have been shielding in Merthyr Tydfil county borough. It draws on interviews with people with direct experience of shielding, stakeholders, and the Bevan Foundation’s own research on shielding.

Key recommendations

We identify five key actions which could help prevent social isolation and loneliness now and in the future. Although shielding will eventually end, social isolation and loneliness will continue, and the recommendations provides a long-term framework:

  • Contact people advised to shield to check if they require any support, and signpost where required. People have spent several months shielding and their situation may have changed considerably since receiving a welfare call. There are also people who have since been added to the Shielded Patient List.
  • Provide a ‘shielding’ local information hub or advice line. This could be in addition to or combined with the regional advice line which can be accessed by people who have been asked to self-isolate and need support.
  • Support and promote activities to prevent social isolation and loneliness including telephone befriending which has been a lifeline during the pandemic.
  • Develop a strategic joined-up approach to tackle social isolation and loneliness. Build on the good practice around partnership working which was achieved during the pandemic. This would include a plan for action which incorporates the targeting of particular at-risk groups, including carers and younger people.
  • Ensure the third sector is adequately resourced so it can continue to support people during the pandemic and recovery. Develop a funding strategy for third sector organisations to continue the work they do.

The importance of local action

As restrictions are lifted many people will be able to reconnect with family, friends and their local area. However, many will struggle to recover and will need help to do this. Local action could help those who are at most at risk of experiencing social isolation and loneliness.

This work was funded by the Third Sector Grant Scheme supported by the Welsh Government Integrated Care Fund. The funding was administered by Voluntary Action Merthyr Tydfil and Interlink Rhondda Cynon Taf.

Report format: PDF

Language English 

Pages: 25

Cost: Free



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