Businesses in West Norfolk are being urged to apply for a new Quality Mark which has been launched to recognise work to combat loneliness.
Shops, pubs, parish councils and community based organisations can apply for the Quality Mark, which is part of the In Good Company campaign.
This is being run by more than 20 organisations from the statutory and voluntary sector to help combat the increasing problem of loneliness in Norfolk and the first round of awards are due to be made this Autumn.
Bill Borrett, the chair of adult social services at Norfolk County Council, said: “The response to our county’s In Good Company campaign has been great, and was the first step in us acknowledging the impact that loneliness has on our services and that reducing social isolation in Norfolk’s communities is vital if we want to help more people retain their independence.”
Mr Borrett said local businesses and community organisations were key in tackling the issue, as they may be the only social contact isolated people have.
“I know that many of these organisations are doing a huge amount to tackle this problem and the In Good Company Quality Mark is one way of recognising and endorsing all of the work they are doing for their local communities,” he added.
Louise Smith, director of public health, said: “We know that loneliness is associated with a heightened risk of mortality, depression, sleep problems, Alzheimer’s, heart disease and stroke.
“So anything we can do to stop people feeling socially isolated will have a positive impact on the number of people diagnosed with these problems and reduce the need for health care intervention.”
Applications can be made via an online form at www.norfolk.gov.uk/ingoodcompany.
There is no deadline for applications and no limit on the number of Quality Marks that can be awarded. Awards will be made quarterly.