In Britain there are an estimated 9 million lonely people. Which is tragic. And terrifying. Because we now know that chronic loneliness can be as harmful to your health as smoking 15 cigarettes a day. It can increase your chances of having Alzheimers, stroke and other conditions - all of which also put an unsustainable burden on our health and social services.
The good news is that for every £1 spent to counter loneliness, it’s believed up to £3 can be saved. The question is where to invest.
We believe it’s not in pills. Or procedures. It’s in people - through increasing and enhancing our connections. And there are brilliant ‘social prescribing’ initiatives emerging - from working in sheds to singing in choirs. But almost all of them assume two things: mobility and proximity.
11% of Britain's older people are in contact with family less than once a month.
Our mission is to connect the less-mobile to people and places they love through virtual visits
Our mission is to help connect the less mobile to both people and places they love through virtual visits. Not as a replacement for face-to-face visits, but as a supplement - removing distance as a barrier to enable vulnerable people to always feel supported and connected.
Our journey started when a team member struggled to help his recovering father feel connected and engaged while in long-term care. The more he sought ideas from other patients, visitors and carers on what to do, the clearer it became that so many others struggled with the same challenge. And that technology might help.
The team - combining experience in public health research among vulnerable groups, long-distance communication tools for families and engaging virtual experiences - grew excited to address this challenge on a global scale. To put the benefits of virtual reality in the hands of not just those who might potentially want it but of those who genuinely need it.