THOSE most susceptible to loneliness have an ideal facility in Darwen, according to the town council mayor.

It comes as research showed Britain was the loneliness capital of Europe and a further study found 16 per cent of adult social care users felt isolated.

The effects of loneliness on health havw been highlighted in recent weeks and a dedicated phone line, The Silver Line, was set up by TV celebrity Esther Rantzen in a bid to tackle it.

But Darwen Town Council mayor Trevor Maxfield said over-50s in Darwen were well provided for at Derwent Hall in George Street.

He said: “Right in the heart of our town we have a facility that offers all sorts of things to older people.

“Derwent Hall has been there for more than 65 years and the volunteers and staff there are fantastic.

“People who suffer from loneliness in Darwen always have somewhere to go where they can enjoy a cup of tea and a friendly chat in the lounge.

“It is a real asset to our town that at a time when loneliness is being touted as such a big issue nationwide, we have somewhere for people to go.”

The centre offers two-course home-cooked meals Monday to Friday for £3.20, as well as a pop-in cafe that opens at 10am selling tea and coffee and other refreshments and food. There is a lounge where people can sit and chat and the centre hosts friendship clubs and other activities, including sequence dancing and craft groups, every day of the week.

Derwent Hall manager Julie Brindle said: “We have been going since 1947 and we are the only independent charity of our kind in the country.

“We get a lot of people coming in who would otherwise be very lonely.

“In fact, one woman who has started coming in recently told me last week it was the best thing she had ever done coming here.”

For more information on Derwent Hall, call 01254 702259.