The COVID19 pandemic has taught us many things, including the effects of social isolation and loneliness on one’s wellbeing. All of us in some way, began to understand what it felt like to be socially disconnected from the world around us and to feel some of the potential consequences both physically and mentally. Our collective experience has started conversations and is encouraging health organisations to lean in and look at what can be done to support those who have difficulty creating social connections, so that they are no longer are part of a silent and unheard health crisis. 

Recently, the World Health Organisation (WHO) appointed a Health Consultant for the newly created WHO Commission on Social Connection, Daniel Leo Surkalim. The WHO Commission on Social Connection (2024–2026) aims to see the issue recognised and resourced as a global public health priority. The Commission will propose a global agenda on social connection, working with high-level Commissioners to make the case for action, marshal support to scale up proven solutions and measure progress. 

Since 1996, Open Support has identified this societal need and has been providing social outreach services in to lonely and isolated people. Starting out as an in-home companionship service, our Community Connections Program has now progressed to an outreach capacity building service. Recognising the client as the expert in their own lives, Open Support ensures a responsive and individualised approach that seeks to empower and enable people to establish and maintain meaningful social connection, leading to overall wellbeing, with clients reporting an uplift in wellbeing on average of 25% increase in their wellbeing after participating in the program. Open Support will continue to lead the way, have a voice and push for better resources and outcomes for this global health priority, now recognised by WHO, so that we have an even wider impact on our community’s wellbeing. 

If you would like to find out more about Open Support or know someone who might benefit from this service, please visit our page.