Letchworth woman prepares for a week in isolation

A CHARITY worker will move out of her own home later this month as she spends a week in total isolation.

Caro Hart, of Letchworth GC, will put her life on hold as she takes part in a social experiment organised by UK charity Friends of the Elderly and completely cuts herself off from society for 159 hours.

The service develop manager for older peoples’ charity Independent Age will take part in Isolation Week from 9am on Monday, June 20, until 12am on Monday, June 27, in a study which is being replicated by 10 other individuals across the UK, including Liverpool and Cardiff.

During the week, the 50-year-old will not be able to speak to anyone face to face or on the phone, with communication in a two-way conversation via the internet, including emailing and social networks, also forbidden.

Caro has decided to move out of her own home - where she lives with her boyfriend - for the challenge and is currently seeking a self-catering flat to use for the week.

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Speaking to The Comet ahead of the experiment, she said: “I work with older people and I’m running projects around social isolation and loneliness so it’s something professionally I’m very concerned with.

“I’m very lucky in that I’ve got a good number of family and friends around me and I do really enjoy my own company.

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“I felt that I’d really like to do this to raise the profile of these issues - one in 10 older people say they are always or often lonely. That’s a hell of a lot.

“I think people should be made more aware of it - there are campaigns at Christmas but it’s a year round issue.

“My initial reaction was ‘I’m being paid to be on my own for a week - great’ but that’s a whole week alone. In two and a half years there hasn’t been a point where in 24 hours I haven’t had a natter with my boyfriend or spoken to my dad.”

As part of Isolation Week, Caro will be using equipment such as gloves and vision-impairing glasses to help her experience the effects of physical ageing, as well as trying out different ‘empathy tools’.

Caro will also be uploading daily video diaries to www.isolationweek.com and tweeting on social networking site Twitter via one-way text messages about her experience.

The Comet will also be monitoring her progress by posting Caro’s videos online, so check back to www.thecomet24.co.uk for updates.

At the end of the week all the findings will be analysed by researchers at the institute of ageing at Brunel University in London.

*Caro is still looking for a flat to use, preferably in Letchworth GC, for the duration of Isolation Week. If you can help email caro.hart@independentage.org.uk

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