Last week we held our online conference, Loneliness: The next five years, and brought together over 400 delegates from civil society, business, academia, and politics. Thank you to our speakers, attendees, thought leader sponsor Sky, and to you all for making this event possible. 

If you were unable to get a ticket, you can now access the full conference recordings and explore the exhibition area.

“A lot can still be achieved”

The conference was an opportunity for us all to reflect on our collective achievements to date and to keep building the momentum on the global issue of loneliness in the years to come.

The opening words of Kim Leadbetter MP, Co-chair of the APPG on Tackling Loneliness and Connected Communities, underpinned this message – “All of us that have worked on loneliness in the UK have achieved a huge amount since my sister Jo Cox started her work back in 2015 and since we managed to get the world’s first ever Minister for Loneliness appointed, my friend and colleague Tracey Crouch, and the world’s first ever government strategy on loneliness. But there is always more to do. A lot can still be achieved.”

This feeling of hope, optimism and enthusiasm for building a better connected, less lonely world continued throughout the day, ranging from the suggestion that through small, daily acts we can all make our communities kinder and more inclusive, to plans for user-focused and evidence-based action to address loneliness across all areas of society. 

“Loneliness is a social justice issue” 

A focus of the conference centred on loneliness inequalities. We heard from our keynote, Professor Manuela Barreto, about the WCPP Loneliness Inequalities Evidence Review which explored how loneliness is unevenly experienced and has unequal impacts on outcomes such as health, education and political participation. 

Key findings of the review included evidence of greater loneliness among migrants, racial and ethnic minorities, and gender minorities, with various factors exacerbating these disparities, such as cultural differences, age at migration, and time spent in the host society. The review also addressed the role of mental health, chronic illness, unemployment, and low socioeconomic status in contributing to loneliness, highlighting the bidirectional relationship between loneliness and these factors.

In order to address loneliness effectively, we need interventions and policies that address the root causes of social inequalities. Throughout the day, we heard how people, organisations and politicians are responding to this challenge, from developing accessible and gender-inclusive places and spaces, to embedding social connection within local, national, and global policy making. This focus on loneliness as an issue which requires political action was echoed strongly by Jakob Forssmed, the Swedish Minister for Health and Social Affairs in the international discussion.

“You are the future”

We live in a period of huge social change. New challenges and opportunities will emerge and how we respond to these must remain a collective effort. What do you think can be achieved in the next five years? What might stop progress? How can we work together to tackle these potential obstacles to move the issue forwards? These are questions we encourage you all to keep at the forefront of your minds as we look ahead to the future.   

“For the next five years, I hope we can stay alongside the government and help them keep faith with the good work that they have done. I hope we can make sharing learning happen even more than it does at the moment and make it travel across borders, because learning is global. I hope we will see evidence of better connected communities. Maybe, just maybe, we ourselves can live in a way that most resembles what we want – that we can be the change that we seek […] You are the leaders, you are the future. Campaigning to end loneliness is never more needed than now. I can’t wait to see what you’re going to do.” – Paul Cann OBE, Co-founder of the Campaign to End Loneliness

Tackling loneliness has always been a collective effort, across many sectors, organisations and individuals. At the Campaign to End Loneliness, we are proud of everything we have achieved over the last 13 years, but are also grateful for the knowledge and expertise that has been so freely shared to create this global movement. This spirit was evident on the day with connections being forged in the live chat as participants shared their experiences and knowledge, and started conversations and partnerships that we anticipate will continue to be productive and impactful in months to come.

As we now work on securing a legacy for the Campaign to End Loneliness before it ends in its current form at the end of April 2024, we want to thank you for being part of this movement and in continuing your work and commitment in this area.