Tackling loneliness and building a connected society

Posted on the 13th September 2018

The Government’s Civil Society Strategy was launched on 09 August. It sets out a vision which places communities at the centre of decision-making and focuses on five key foundations of social value: people, places and the public, private and social sectors.

Crucially, the strategy highlights that Government alone cannot solve the many complex challenges facing society, and this includes loneliness.

In December, the Jo Cox Commission on Loneliness published its report Combatting loneliness one conversation at a time. It sends a strong message that everyone has a role to play in coming together – as individuals, in our communities, with civil society organisations, businesses, schools, employers and with government – to help build a more connected world.

The health impacts of feeling lonely are being increasingly reported. Feeling lonely often has been equated with smoking 15 cigarettes a day (Holt-Lunstad et al. (2015): Loneliness and Social Isolation as Risk Factors for Mortality: A Meta-Analytic Review).

It’s also linked with depression and an increased risk of Alzheimer’s (Hawkley and Cacioppo (2009): Perceived social isolation and cognition).

In January, the Prime Minister announced a cross-government drive to tackle loneliness to be led by Tracey Crouch MP. This will include a strategy on tackling loneliness in England, due to be published by the end of 2018.

In June 2018, the Government also announced £20.5 million of grant-funding for charities and community groups working to bring communities together. This is made up of the £11.5 million Building Connections Fund, a partnership between the government, Big Lottery Fund, and Co-op Foundation, plus an additional £9million through separate funds run by the People’s Postcode Lottery and the Health Lotteries.

The role of voluntary and community groups in combatting loneliness cannot be overstated. There are a huge number of organisations helping to strengthen social connections and build relationships between people within, and indeed across, different geographies. There are also the hidden heroes- individuals acting conscientiously to support those at risk of loneliness and social isolation in their areas.

If you are aware of a great civil society organisation helping to combat loneliness – join the conversation, share your work and retweet this blog at #communitiesweek2018.

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