All throughout 2017, the Jo Cox Commission on Loneliness did work all over the country to carry out one of the late minister’s legacies: a national conversation and call to action about an issue that has far-reaching mental and physical health implications.
Thirteen different charities got involved in some way, each focussing on a different communityolder people, refugees and asylum seekers, carers and others. Loneliness can affect anyone but might affect people in different ways depending on the trigger, so it’s great to have findings from all walks of life.
The Commission recently published a manifesto as a summary of their findings and recommendations. It is only the beginning, but lays out some clear priorities to start addressing what some people refer to as an epidemic.
Some key figures:
- For 3.6 million people over the age of 65, television is their main form of company. (Source: Age UK)
- 8 out of 10 carers have felt lonely or isolated as a result of being a carer. (Source: Carers UK)
- Disconnected communities could be costing the UK economy as much as £32 billion per year. (Source: Big Lunch)
At the top of the Commission’s recommendations are a nation-wide strategy and an appointed Minister to lead on the issue. The second has already been acted on with the appointment of Tracey Crouch to champion the cause and there will also be a new All-Party Parliamentary Group on loneliness. There are further recommendations all the way down to a local and individual level, which can be found on page 3 of the report.
The manifesto also suggests Public Health produce easy-to-understand messages about the importance of connecting with others and avoiding loneliness. Perhaps something similar to the straightforward 5-a-day campaign about eating fruits and vegetables could be developed to encourage people to make social connections.
One of the Commission’s main messages is that everyone can do something, whether it’s organising a small event in your own community, being more intentional about your own relationships, or taking the time to look in on a neighbour you think might be feeling lonely.
Have a read of the report and then think about what YOU can do to help overcome loneliness and social isolation. Share your ideas in the comments!