Tracey Crouch, the minister for sport and civil society, has been asked by the prime minister to lead the cross-governmental strategy tackling loneliness and social isolation.
Crouch’s work will build on that of the Jo Cox Commission on Loneliness, which had been set up the former Labour MP for Batley and Spen before her death in June 2016. She had formed an independent, cross-party Commission of MPs and charities to highlight the fact that “we can all do something to help lonely people in our community”.
Crouch said: "I am privileged to be taking forward the remarkable work done by Jo Cox, the foundation and the commission. I am sure that with the support of volunteers, campaigners, businesses and my fellow MPs from all sides of the house, we can make significant progress in defeating loneliness.
“This is an issue that Jo cared passionately about and we will honour her memory by tackling it, helping the millions of people across the UK who suffer from loneliness."
Work with 13 charities
The Jo Cox Commission on Loneliness, chaired by Rachel Reeves MP and Seema Kennedy MP, has spent the last year considering what the government and others can do to help. They have been working with 13 charities including Age UK, Royal Voluntary Service and Action for Children to develop ideas.
The prime minister’s appointment of the ministerial lead on loneliness was the first of the Jo Cox Commission’s recommendations to be implemented. Crouch will lead a cross-government group which will “take responsibility for driving action on loneliness across all parts of government and keeping it firmly on the agenda”.
A cross-government strategy will 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.
Work has also begun on 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; and scale-up and spread existing work offering practical and emotional support to help lonely individuals reconnect with their communities.
Rachel Reeves MP and Seema Kennedy MP, co-chairs of the commission said: "We are really pleased to see that the government is taking the issue of loneliness very seriously with its prompt response to our report. Jo Cox said that “young or old, loneliness doesn’t discriminate”.
“Throughout 2017 we have heard from new parents, children, disabled people, carers, refugees and older people about their experience of loneliness.
“We very much welcome that government has accepted the commission’s recommendations including the appointment of a new ministerial lead who will have the responsibility for creating a national strategy to tackle loneliness. We look forward to working with minister Tracey Crouch, businesses, community groups and the public to create a world less lonely."