UK government launches initiative to combat loneliness

The UK government has appointed a ministerial lead on loneliness to combat social isolation.

Prime minister Theresa May has announced that the government is following a series of recommendations made by the Jo Cox Commission on Loneliness.

Tracey Crouch, Minister for Sport and Civil Society, will oversee a cross-government group tasked with driving action on loneliness. In a statement, Downing Street said the group will “develop a strategy on loneliness in England to be published later this year”.

Stakeholders in the development of the strategy will include government, local government, public services, the voluntary sector and businesses. The prime minister said: "For far too many people, loneliness is the sad reality of modern life.

"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."

A fund will see the government work with bodies including charitable organisations to generate solutions for tackling loneliness. The fund is, among other remits, designed to enable local communities to create initiatives and activities that “enable people to connect”.

Tracey Crouch, new ministerial lead for loneliness, said: “I am privileged to be taking forward the remarkable work done by Jo Cox, the Foundation and the Commission.

“I am sure that with the support of volunteers, campaigners, businesses and my fellow MPs from all sides of the House, we can make significant progress in defeating loneliness."

Research shows that more than nine million people in the country always feel lonely. Figures also reveal that 200,000 elderly people can go more than a month without having a conversation with a friend or family member.

The Downing Street statement highlighted that certain group are at particularly high risk of loneliness, including carers and young people. According to the research on loneliness, as many as 85% of disabled young adults, aged 18-34, feel lonely.

Member of parliament Jo Cox, who was murdered in June 2016, championed the work to combat loneliness and its detrimental impact on individual lives and society.

After her death, the Jo Cox Foundation was set up, to continue working for the causes the MP was passionate about.