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Government announces strategy to tackle loneliness

Published on 17 January 2018 01:14 PM

Following the recommendations of the Jo Cox Commission on loneliness, the Prime Minister will today (Wednesday 17 January) set out a new cross-Government strategy to tackle social isolation.

Theresa May will announce that the Government is accepting a series of recommendations from the Jo Cox Commission on Loneliness.

She will host a reception at Downing Street to celebrate Jo Cox's legacy, and the important work of her family, Foundation and the Commission in highlighting how many people are experiencing loneliness. Research shows:

  • More than nine million people always or often feel lonely;
  • Around 200,000 older people have not had a conversation with a friend or relative in more than a month; and
  • Up to 85% of young disabled adults – 18-34 year olds – feel lonely.

'Loneliness is the sad reality of modern life for too many people'

Ahead of the reception, the Prime Minister paid tribute to Jo Cox, her family and to those working for the Foundation and Commission for highlighting the issue. She commented: 'For far too many people, loneliness is the sad reality of modern life.

'I want to confront this challenge for our society and for all of us to take action to address the loneliness endured by the elderly, by carers, by those who have lost loved ones – people who have no one to talk to or share their thoughts and experiences with.

'Jo Cox recognised the scale of loneliness across the country and dedicated herself to doing all she could to help those affected.

'So I am pleased that Government can build on her legacy with a ministerial lead for loneliness who will work with the Commission, businesses and charities to shine a light on the issue and pull together all strands of Government to create the first ever strategy.

Theresa May went on to encourage everyone to get involved, adding, 'We should all do everything we can to see that, in Jo's memory, we bring an end to the acceptance of loneliness for good.'

A new ministerial lead on loneliness

The Prime Minister has today implemented the first of the Jo Cox Commission's recommendations – appointing a ministerial lead on loneliness. The Minister for Sport and Civil Society Tracey Crouch will lead a cross-Government group which will take responsibility for driving action on loneliness across all parts of Government and keeping it firmly on the agenda.

In addition, work has also begun on:

  • A cross-Government strategy on loneliness in England to be published later this year. This will bring together Government, local government, public services, the voluntary and community sector and businesses to identify opportunities to tackle loneliness, and build more integrated and resilient communities
  • Developing the evidence-base around the impact of different initiatives in tackling loneliness, across all ages and within all communities, led by the Government's What Works centres
  • Establishing appropriate indicators of loneliness across all ages with the Office for National Statistics so these figures can be included in major research studies
  • A dedicated fund which will see Government working with charitable trusts, foundations, and others to stimulate innovative solutions to loneliness, fund community-based approaches, and scale up existing work offering support to lonely individuals.

Age UK's involvement in the Jo Cox Commission on Loneliness

The Jo Cox Commission on Loneliness, chaired by Rachel Reeves MP and Seema Kennedy MP, has spent the last year considering what the Government and others can do to help. They have been working with 13 charities including Age UK and Action for Children to develop ideas for change.

Caroline Abrahams, Charity Director at Age UK, said: 'While naturally "the proof of the pudding will be in the eating", the Government’s decision to develop a cross-cutting strategy on loneliness is one we strongly welcome. Loneliness blights far too many lives in this country and older people are especially at risk.

'It has been a great privilege to be part of the Jo Cox Commission on Loneliness over the past year and we are delighted that the Government has responded positively to its recommendations.

'There is clearly a lot more that we can all do to help prevent and tackle loneliness but we hope this Government initiative will be a big step forward and we look forward to supporting it in any way we can.'

Cafes for army veterans

Phil Burton, a former Royal Artillery Lance Bombardier, will attend the reception to receive a Point of Light Award from the Prime Minister for his work to tackle loneliness. He founded the Veterans' Café in Leyland which brings former members of the armed forces together, to talk, share experiences and access support from charities and the NHS. He said:

He commented, 'When I first started the venture with the Veterans' Café, I never thought it would grow into something this big. I originally wanted to set this up for the veterans, so they had a place to meet, and talk to like-minded people with the same day to day issues. This has now brought the veteran community together, and is allowing veterans of all ages to get the help where needed. This would never have been possible without the help of South Ribble Council, and the veterans that support the café on a fortnightly basis.'

Watch a video about Age UK's veterans cafe in Darlington below

Find out about Age UK's befriending services

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Last updated: Dec 05 2018

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