Laura Alcock-Ferguson, Executive Director of the Campaign to End Loneliness, said:
“We are proud to be at the forefront of the UK’s position as a world leader on tackling loneliness. This is a comprehensive Government strategy on loneliness and a vital part of our country making a real difference on this devastating issue.
“However, the Prime Minister has stated that loneliness sits alongside obesity as one of the greatest public health challenges of our time and we welcome the strong recognition of this risk. Billions per year is spent on obesity and we would expect to see similar long-term investment for loneliness, an issue that impacts the health and wellbeing of millions. The £1.8 million announced today to unlock community spaces and build social connections, even with the £20 million announced earlier this year, is surely just the start of investing in the prevention and alleviation of loneliness. Our research shows that for every £1 invested in loneliness you can save £3 in health costs. It pays to tackle loneliness.
“The government strategy will also only succeed if many of us in all walks of life make an effort every day to make all of our connections more meaningful. As we saw at the Campaign to End Loneliness’ global conference last week, wider innovation and leadership is also needed and will come from non-governmental organisations being convened and working together. The first step for us all is to watch out for and listen to people who are experiencing loneliness. 9 million people in the UK feel lonely and 4 million of them are in later life. Whether we are people going about our daily lives or policy-makers, we must listen to the voices and experiences of those facing loneliness, particularly those in older age. They often have less opportunity to make connections but deserve the friendship and support that we all need, no matter what age we are.
“We support the Governments plans to tackle the stigma of loneliness. Our research found that more than half of British adults say admitting to loneliness is difficult – and three quarters of over-65s say they would find it hard to admit to feeling lonely because they do not want to be a burden. We know the stigma of loneliness is isolating and we welcome more efforts to tackle it.
“The Campaign to End Loneliness will continue to work with the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport and the Minister to create as much momentum and change as possible. We have committed to convene an employers’ group in partnership with the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, so employers can consider and mitigate the impact their work has on loneliness and isolation.
“We all know what loneliness feels like and we want to see one of the legacies of the strategy being more action from more people and organisations working together on loneliness. The strategy alone does not provide all of the innovation and resources needed to create a more connected society. Wider innovation and leadership is also needed from non-governmental organisations working together. The Minister celebrated the work of these organisations at our conference, stating that she is confident that “we can do this together.”
“The Minister has played an instrumental and passionate leadership role. Her personal commitment to addressing loneliness and her willingness to listen to a range of voices on the issue has been inspiring. We welcome her continuing to be the Minister for Loneliness and look forward to working with her. We hope that this strategy is just the start of connections, relationships and loneliness being taken seriously across all areas of government.”