DUDLEY councillors this week approved a notice of motion to try and tackle the issue of loneliness.

Quarry Bank councillor Jackie Cowell presented the motion at the latest full council meeting - urging Dudley Council to note "that loneliness and isolation are a public health issue that must be tackled at a local as well as national level".

Cllr Cowell (pictured below) told members in the council chamber on Monday that "being chronically lonely is equivalent to smoking 15 cigarettes a day" and that loneliness "makes people more likely to drink more alcohol, eat more and exercise less" and "increases the risk of heart disease and puts people at greater risk of blood clots".

Dudley News: Councillor Jackie Cowell

She told members: "Councillors and the authority as a whole can play a key leadership role in ensuring Dudley is an area in which people maintain and forge social connections."

The Labour councillor called on the council to work to address the issue by improving information and advice on existing services and activities that reduce loneliness and isolation and make sure information is available both online and off.

She also called for the launch of a local initiative to raise awareness of the health effects of loneliness and isolation among target risk groups.

Councillors across all three parties unanimously approved the motion.