BETTER local transport and access to community based services is needed in the Cotswolds, according to new local research into loneliness in the elderly.

The research, which was commissioned by Cotswold District Council using funding from the Gloucestershire Police and Crime Commissioner, also found there should be more support for carers and older men, as well as help to use IT and access volunteering opportunities.

The project was developed in response to national research by the Campaign to End Loneliness, which found more than 800,000 older people in England feel lonely all or most of the time.

Over the last five months, researchersKelly Hennessey-Ford and Val McKay of Memory Clubs UK and freelance consultant Amanda Howard, have carried out desk studies, in-depth interviews and focus groups to understand the local picture in the Cotswolds.

The group began by looking at research by Gloucestershire County Council to help identify the parts of the Cotswolds where people might be more vulnerable to loneliness.

They then mapped this information against the availability of local services and activities that might help to prevent or alleviate loneliness.

Ms Howard said their next step was to bring together local residents to talk about their own experiences of loneliness in a series of interviews and focus groups

"We are grateful to the residents who shared their thoughts with us and the findings from this part of the research are particularly revealing," she said.

Cllr Carole Topple, Cotswold District Council Cabinet Member for Communities and Health, said:

“We welcome the findings of this research into a very important issue.

"We know that rural isolation can compound other factors that contribute to experiences of loneliness, and we need to address this problem."

The findings of the research will be shared with partner agencies, local community groups and other interested parties at a special event on Tuesday,February 25 at the Westwood Centre in Northleach.