New Ministerial Lead on Loneliness
Flourishing Lives is delighted to welcome the Prime Minister’s decision to appoint a ministerial lead on loneliness. MP Tracey Crouch, the Minister for Sport and Civil Society, will see her role extended to include leading a cross-government group responsible for driving action on loneliness across all parts of government.
The scale of this epidemic - which includes statistics like more than 9 million people ‘always or often’ feeling lonely, and around 200,000 older people who have not had a conversation with a friend or relative in more than a month - absolutely demands that this issue is given more attention. We’re therefore pleased to not only welcome the raised profile of the issue of loneliness but also the early strategy set out for the role:
- developing a cross-government strategy on loneliness in England to be published later this year. This will bring together government, local government, public services, the voluntary and community sector and businesses to identify opportunities to tackle loneliness, and build more integrated and resilient communities
- developing the evidence-base around the impact of different initiatives in tackling loneliness, across all ages and within all communities, led by the government’s What Works centres
- establishing appropriate indicators of loneliness across all ages with the Office for National Statistics so these figures can be included in major research studies
- a dedicated fund which will see government working with charitable trusts, foundations, and others to:
- stimulate innovative solutions to loneliness across all ages, backgrounds and communities
- provide seed funding for communities to come together to develop activities which enable people to connect
- scale-up and spread existing work offering practical and emotional support to help lonely individuals reconnect with their communities
This hugely complicated matter will not be solved by any one catch-all policy. But the approach above, which combines the opportunity for a national dialogue around isolation, a strategy which crosses government department divides, and the recognition of the need for funding, has real potential to turn the tide on this devastating issue.
As Flourishing Lives, we have had the pleasure of witnessing and experiencing some of the exceptional work that is being done across the arts and health sectors to combat social isolation. (Please do check out our Coalition Members page to explore further!) However, we have also seen the ways in which the scope of this work has been constrained and undermined by financial limitations and contradictory approaches by other organisations.
We therefore call on Coalition Members to help ensure that this work stays on the right track by responding to developments as they happen and to make sure that the sheer importance of this new appointment is not lost or forgotten. We know you know the necessity of outreach work, so if we could take this moment to also ask you to lend your support to the Cinema Museum which is at risk of closure, that would be hugely appreciated. The museum provides invaluable community wellbeing work as well, of course, as playing a vital role in keeping alive the history of cinema. To find out more and sign the petition click here. Thank you.