Loneliness today and tomorrow – why the APPG on tackling loneliness matters
By Robin Hewings, Programme Director
Loneliness was already one of the major issues facing societies around the world. There is no doubt that Covid-19 did have – and continues to have – a severe impact on loneliness. The pandemic led to many, many people becoming lonely – and most seriously over 1 million people became chronically lonely during the pandemic. These people urgently need targeted support to help them get back into social life.
So there is no doubt that this is a key time for loneliness. On the plus side, we already have a national strategy that is admired around the world. With clear and realistic goals it has been a real success story. The pandemic has also showed the value of supporting connection – both as vitally important in its own right – but also to get us through whatever life throws at us. At the same time the pandemic has also dramatically sped up changes to the way many of us work, shop, socialise, travel, use the internet and use health and care services. All of these have the potential to make us less lonely if we get these changes right. And more lonely if we get them wrong.
In recent months it has become all too easy to point to disconnection and strife in our political life and media headlines but today has been has been a good day with the relaunch of the APPG for Loneliness and Connected Communities – an all-party parliamentary group which brings parliamentarians together from across the political divide with a common goal of addressing loneliness and increasing our connection with each other. We, the Campaign to End Loneliness were delighted – and flattered – to have been asked to join the British Red Cross as the secretariat and support new co-chairs Tracey Crouch and Kim Leadbeater. Two politicians with a deep commitment to tackling loneliness.
With thanks to the Astra Foundation who have made this all possible, I have no doubt that this group will make a tangible difference. Although the task ahead is challenging, the amazing community of people with experience of loneliness, researchers, practitioners and policy experts will all help the APPG’s work in defining the change we need to see – and help make it a reality.