On the first anniversary of the Government’s loneliness strategy for England, our Director of Campaigns, Policy and Research, Robin Hewings, reflects on how far they’ve come, and what more the Government can do to address loneliness.
Today marks the first anniversary of the loneliness strategy for England. The Government made many commitments, but one of the most ambitious is the roll-out of social prescribing. This will mean that people can be better supported to connect with their communities. There is also a Building Connections Fund to support loneliness projects and to collect data in a more systematic way. This will address one of the big issues in loneliness: that we need to know a lot more about what works and understand impact more clearly.
“The roll-out of social prescribing will mean that people can be better supported to connect with their communities.”
Loneliness Action Group
As part of the Loneliness Action Group, we have also published a report looking at the progress of the government’s strategy. We surveyed our supporters to understand progress so far. What we found is that while the government is doing roughly what it said it would, it still isn’t making a difference on the ground. This is now the key task for us. We need to take loneliness from research, pilots and working groups to making a difference to the 1.2 million older people who say they always or often feel lonely.
“While the government is doing roughly what it said it would, it still isn’t making a difference on the ground.”
Alongside the individual policies, one of the most important parts of having strategy is to put loneliness on the agenda. The effects of this are filtering out to all kinds of organisations who are addressing loneliness in their work. I chair the Employers Leadership Group on Loneliness at the business department and I’ve been struck by the range of organisations who want to get involved and tackle loneliness as employers or in their role in the community.
“We need to take loneliness from research, pilots and working groups to making a difference to the 1.2 million older people who say they always or often feel lonely.”
Tackling Loneliness across the UK
It’s not just in England where progress is being made. The Campaign to End Loneliness is involved in developing loneliness strategies across the UK. The Scottish Government launched A Connected Scotland in December last year. As part of a wide range of policies, it commits to considering how their investment can be made to work for loneliness. They have announced a £1m fund to tackle loneliness, which is yet to go live, to build capacity to tackle loneliness.
The Government in Wales are planning publish their own strategy. Having been involved in its development, it is clear that a great amount of work is going into making a difference across the board. While political institutions are suspended in Northern Ireland, councils are pressing forward and we are working with leading politicians to create a strategy as soon as possible. Councils are pressing forward and we are working with leading politicians to create a strategy as soon as possible.