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Theresa May sets out government’s plans to tackle loneliness

Today the Prime Minister will set out how government is tackling loneliness and combating social isolation. Accepting a series of recommendations from the Jo Cox Commission on Loneliness.

The Prime Minister 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.

Loneliness doesn’t discriminate. Us Broke Girls in the City can feel it too.


Research shows:

  • more than 9 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
  • up to 85% of young disabled adults – 18-34 year olds – feel lonely

Prime Minister Theresa May:

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.

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.

Jo Cox Commission’s Recommendations:

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.

Work includes:

  • developing 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 across all ages, backgrounds and communities
    • provide seed funding for communities to come together to develop activities which enable people to connect
    • scale-up and spread existing work offering practical and emotional support to help lonely individuals reconnect with their communities

A number of government initiatives are already in place to help reduce loneliness. Including improved mental health support and the pocket parks programme which has transformed unused spaces into new green areas. Lonely people are able to join volunteering groups and interact with neighbours.

New ministerial lead for loneliness, Minister for Sport and Civil Society Tracey Crouch:

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.

This is an issue that Jo cared passionately about and we will honour her memory by tackling it, helping the millions of people across the UK who suffer from loneliness.

Loneliness can be triggered by a life event, such as a bereavement or becoming a parent. Certain groups, such as young people and carers are particularly at risk.

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.

Rachel Reeves MP and Seema Kennedy MP, co-Chairs of the Commission:

We are really pleased to see that the government is taking the issue of loneliness very seriously with its prompt response to our report. Jo Cox said that “young or old, loneliness doesn’t discriminate.

We very much welcome that government has accepted the Commission’s recommendations including the appointment of a new ministerial lead who will have the responsibility for creating a national strategy to tackle loneliness.

Mark Robinson, Chief Officer of Age UK Barnet:

Loneliness can kill. It’s proven to be worse for health than smoking 15 cigarettes a day

Read our article about JO Cox and The Great Together.