In September this year, Prime Minister, Theresa May, announced a cross-party strategy to tackle loneliness in the UK. At Abney & Baker, we’re taking on loneliness by providing the support for individuals and families that are most affected by it.
It’s encouraging for us to see Downing Street now making the institutional changes needed to make a real difference to people’s lives and help organisations like us. This positive development from the government comes from the tragedy of MP Jo Cox’s murder in 2016. From within her Yorkshire constituency of Birstall and on a national scale working from the House of Commons, Jo Cox recognised that loneliness was linked to all manner of challenges facing society today.
In honour of her work in life, in death, the government set up the Jo Cox Commission for Loneliness in January 2017. Not only did the commission highlight Jo Cox’s important work, it also revealed that she was entirely right: that the UK had a big problem. This view, backed up by an Age UK report released in September of this year, stating that there could be a 49% increase of Over-50s affected by loneliness by 2026, if steps aren’t taken now.
The commission engaged with organisations such as Age UK and the Alzheimer's Society to draw up a picture of all peoples in the UK affected by loneliness. As well as establishing ways to measure progress, the commission recommended the need for national leadership; resulting in MP Tracey Crouch, Minister for Sport and Civil Society, adding loneliness to her ministerial brief.
3.6 million people aged 65 or over say television is their main source of company (Age UK)
50% of disabled people will be lonely on any given day (Sense)
1 in 3 people aged 75 and over say their feelings of loneliness are out of their control (Independent Age)
Taken from Jo Cox Commission Report
Actions to be taken from the commission, set out in Theresa May’s announcement in October, outlines a partnership with the Royal Mail; whereby postal workers will check up on lonely residents on their delivery rounds. An additional £20m will be made available to charities and community groups and GPs will introduce ‘social prescribing’ as an alternative to medication.
Social prescribing aims to deliver more social interactions to isolated individuals. Abney & Baker have long believed connecting people to others is the best way to reverse loneliness. With our Active for Life Social Club, we’ve been getting our clients together for regular coffee mornings to encourage these connections and build more meaningful relationships. We also scour activities from the South West to find the best activities around, so our clients are never short of things to do. Take a look at at some of the sorts of activities we encourage;
It seems that real change is coming. With the government implementing these changes we will continue to work to make lives less lonely in the South West.
If you’d like to know more about how we can help fight loneliness with you or a loved one, call us on 01225 952200.
Jo Cox Commission Report
Age UK Loneliness report Sep 2018