Loneliness among older people who live alone and have little contact with friends or family is increasingly recognised as a serious problem. In 2018, the BBC branded loneliness an “epidemic“, while charities like Age UK have shown that loneliness is not only an emotional problem, but a serious health risk to older people, equivalent perhaps to smoking 15 cigarettes a day.
In January 2018, the Prime Minister announced a drive to tackle loneliness, inspired by the recommendations of the Jo Cox Commission on Loneliness report, published in 2017. A cross-government loneliness team has been assembled and in June 2018 it was announced that £20 million has been invested to help fund the efforts of charities and community groups to tackle loneliness.
In October 2018, the government published its first ever loneliness strategy, A Connected Society:
“It sets out government’s long-term ambitions to work with others to build a more cohesive and connected society. Alongside this, it includes a number of initial commitments that benefit both wider society and people at specific trigger points when they are at greater risk of loneliness.”
Developing a consistent method for measuring levels of loneliness is one of the objectives laid out in the strategy, and until that is in place it is hard to determine a final status for this policy. However, the existence of the new loneliness strategy and the direction of movement towards tackling this issue is evidence enough to deem this policy ‘in progress’. We’ll keep tracking for statistical proof of reduced levels of loneliness, so follow this policy to keep up to date.
Get the facts
- How should we tackle the loneliness epidemic? – BBC News
- Loneliness – Age UK
- PM commits to government-wide drive to tackle loneliness – Gov.uk
- Jo Cox Loneliness – Start a Conversation: Combatting loneliness one conversation at a time – a call to action – Age UK
- Government’s work on tackling loneliness – Gov.uk
- £20 million investment to help tackle loneliness – Gov.uk
- A connected society: A strategy for tackling loneliness – Gov.uk