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Government launches plan to tackle loneliness during pandemic

Loneliness is an issue that can affect us all at some point in our lives, however during the current coronavirus outbreak it is now something that more people are experiencing as we are told to keep to social distancing measures. The Government has launched a major effort to tackle loneliness and social isolation during the pandemic,  that will aim to ensure that, for people of all ages and backgrounds, staying at home does not need to lead to loneliness.

The #LetsTalkLoneliness campaign was originally set up last year, and committed to tackling the stigma of loneliness and promoting the importance of social connections. The campaign encouraged everyone to start the conversation and say it’s OK to feel lonely and it’s okay to talk about it. The latest #Let’sTalkLoneliness public campaign has been rolled out to get people talking openly about loneliness, which includes new public guidance offering useful tips and advice on what to do to look after yourself and others safely.

In collaboration with the Connection Coalition, organised by the Jo Cox Foundation, the government has convened a network of high-profile charities, businesses, organisations and public figures. The group will explore ways to bring people together to build strong community spirit, with a focus on groups at particular risk of loneliness, and will work to continue these initiatives in the future. The ‘Tackling Loneliness Network’ includes the BBC, Premier League, Facebook, ITV, British Red Cross, Jo Cox Foundation, Age UK, Co-op Foundation, and many more.

Catherine Anderson, CEO of The Jo Cox Foundation said:

“The priority given to loneliness and social isolation at this time is extremely welcome. Maintaining social connection at a time of physical distancing is vitally important. And when we eventually come out of this crisis the country will emerge stronger and healthier if we act now to establish a legacy of stronger connections that are maintained in the future. The Jo Cox Foundation, along with our many partner organisations in the Connection Coalition, are investing much time and energy in ensuring this happens and we’re delighted to be playing a role alongside the government in this important work.

In very different times, Jo correctly identified two essential truths that are now self-evident. Firstly, that social isolation and loneliness do not discriminate. Secondly, that we are far more united and have far more in common than that which divides us.”

Some of the aims of the campaign are:

• Smaller, community-based organisations in England helping people to stay connected in local communities will benefit from being a priority category of the £750 million package of support for charities announced by the Chancellor on 8 April.

• National loneliness organisations will be allocated a guaranteed £5 million worth of funding to continue and adapt their critical work at this time.

• As part of the national effort, loneliness charities including Age UK will be supported to work with NHS Volunteer Responders in their communities.

Find out more on the Let’s Talk Loneliness website.