How Social Impact Bonds can be used to reduce Loneliness

At the inspirational Learning Network Conference run by the Campaign to End Loneliness last week, Lisi Bouchard of Social Finance told us that each lonely person leads to an increased service usage of £12,000 pa.  So it’s clear why we need more ideas to reduce loneliness, like Ami.  Social Impact Bonds are a way of funding projects which would save money for the public purse by preventing conditions, such as loneliness.

What’s a Social Impact Bond

In 2010, Social Finance pioneered a model that separates the payment for the delivery of an intervention from the payment for the success of that intervention. This is the Social Impact Bond (SIB). Working with a number of partners, we realised that we needed to understand not only the financial costs of a social issue but the value to interested parties, primarily government, of preventing an escalation of the same social issue. Once we had agreed the financial value of preventing or improving a social issue, we assessed the level of investment needed that would cover the costs of the delivery of the interventions and the risks to the investors if the interventions were not successful. The first SIB was launched in September 2010 at Peterborough Prison. It funds rehabilitation services for short-sentence prisoners released from the prison, with the aim of reducing reoffending post-release. To date, a total of 14 SIBs have been launched in the UK, ranging from supporting young people to find work to helping rough sleepers off the streets.  Introduction to Social Impact Bonds

Has anyone tried using Social Impact Bonds to reduce loneliness?

NESTA has funded a programme called Rebuilding Connections that reduces loneliness and improves well-being in older age.  The programme, run by Age UK Herefordshire & Worcestershire and a range of public and community care and support services will identify lonely individuals, then match them with trained volunteers to help reconnect people with their communities, as well as facilitating a range of other peer support and social activities. The service is funded using a social impact bond, where payments from commissioners are only made when actual reductions in loneliness are achieved (measured through an accredited loneliness scale).   The pilot programme currently has 75 volunteers supporting 150 older people but aims to support 3,000 older people over the next three years, as well as developing open-source tools to help replicate this innovative approach in new areas.

We’d love to learn more about this project and find out if our IT expertise could help in any way.

3 thoughts on “How Social Impact Bonds can be used to reduce Loneliness

  1. Lonely older people are 4 times more likely to have depression and 9 times more likely to develop dementia. A shocking fact also stated by Reconnections ( is that social isolation has the equivalent impact on mortality as smoking 15 cigarettes a day. Services such as Reconnections are very important as social isolation and loneliness becomes more of an issue for our local services.

    1. Yes the statistics are shocking. The Reconnections project is very exciting, I hope it continues to go well. We enjoyed meeting Sophie when she came to visit us in Oxford.

      1. I couldn’t agree more Lois, I think it’s a great project and we really hope its successful in Worcestershire so that it can be rolled out across the country.

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