Denmark presents plan to combat loneliness


Christian Life


Some elderly people do not see anyone for days in a row. Especially during the summer holiday, loneliness becomes a problem. Photo ANP, Remko de Waal

A special committee has presented a plan against loneliness in Denmark. No less than 75 initiatives should reduce the number of lonely people by 50 per cent before 2040.

At the moment, approximately 600,000 Danes experience loneliness, Kristeligt Dagblad estimates. The so-called National Partnership against Loneliness, set up by the Danish Parliament, aims to reduce this number to 300,000 by 2040.

One of the highest priorities of the committee that is led by the Red Cross is to de-stigmatise loneliness. Red Cross Secretary General Anders Ladekarl says this is the first thing that must be done. "You are not alone, and you are welcome to reach out", he illustrates to Kristeligt Dagblad.

In addition, he finds it essential to have more knowledge about loneliness in the country. Therefore, the action plan also suggests setting up a national research and knowledge centre for loneliness.

Another point of action is to offer psychological treatment to people with social problems resulting from loneliness. There should be a national effort to ensure that lonely people are offered the opportunity to become part of communities, says Ladekarl.


The Social Democratic Party, one of the largest coalition parties in Denmark, says to have a positive opinion on the plans. However, spokesperson Birgitte Vind does not want to promise anything yet. "Some of the initiatives require additional and lasting funding", she points out to Kristeligt Dagblad. She adds that it is not sure yet that all problems will be solved by investing money. "It does not have to cost any money. It is very much about how we look after each other."


That the solution to loneliness is not only the responsibility of the government is also the view of the Dutch Aimée Romme, chairperson of the association "Met je hart" ("With your heart"). There are many things citizens can do to reduce the feelings of loneliness of their neighbours, she believes. Therefore, her organisation has started a campaign: "Zomer vier je samen" (Summer is something you celebrate together"). Summer is the time in which the elderly feel extra lonely, Romme explains to the Dutch daily Reformatorisch Dagblad. Often, relatives go on holidays in this period. Activities of local clubs are put on hold. The streets are quiet because school children do not bike past, and elderly people can get bored quickly.

Sometimes, the summer quietness leads to sad situations, Romme knows. "Recently, I spoke to someone who had not seen anybody in three days. And someone else told me that she was looking forward to a birthday party. It would not take place for another six weeks."


The chairperson has several suggestions to reduce the problem. She points out that it is easy to invite an elderly person to go for ice cream, drink a cup of coffee together or go for a walk. And even those who are on holiday can help. "Send a postcard to an elderly person you know, or phone your grandmother or mother weekly. A small gesture can have a big impact."

Furthermore, Romme advises older people to talk about their loneliness with people in their surroundings. "Many do not want to burden their environment. They think their children are already too busy. But by talking about it, the problem can be solved."



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