ALAN MAK: New parliamentary group will drive forward Jo Cox’s legacy

Alan Mak MP with Dr Carolyn Popham, chairman of Dementia Friendly Hayling Island
Alan Mak MP with Dr Carolyn Popham, chairman of Dementia Friendly Hayling Island
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The Havant MP on the government’s ambition to reduce isolation and loneliness

Last week I had the privilege of being elected as a founding officer of a new cross-party group that aims to continue the legacy of murdered MP Jo Cox by tackling loneliness in the UK.

The All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Loneliness will carry forward Jo Cox’s ambition to reduce isolation in Britain.

More than nine million adults say they are often or always lonely, and studies show that loneliness is as harmful to health as obesity or smoking 15 cigarettes a day, making it vital we take action now.

The APPG was formed after a successful year of campaigning by the Jo Cox Commission on Loneliness. Over the past 12 months I have been a spokesperson for the group, as well as supporting the Commission’s #HappyToChat initiative at my Havant Older Persons Information Fair last year which drew 1,000 attendees.

One of the key recommendations made by the commission included the creation of a new minister for loneliness, which was announced by the prime minister at a recent reception at Number 10, Downing Street.

I was delighted to attend the event, and I invited Dr Carolyn Popham, chairman of Dementia Friendly Hayling Island, to join me.

Her group has been at the forefront of the attempt to make Hayling a dementia friendly island.

The group ran sessions at my Older Persons Information Fair, with the aim to help educate residents about the challenges faced by people with dementia, which includes loneliness.

Their efforts have so far been very successful, and I look forward to continuing to support Dr Popham and her group.

Anyone interested in getting involved or would like to take a Dementia Friends session, should email hello@dementiafriendlyhayling.org.uk or call 07555 606917.

Together through community work, such as that being done by Dementia Friendly Hayling, we can go a long way towards eradicating loneliness.

Don’t forget, my third Havant Jobs, Apprenticeships and Careers Fair is taking place on Friday, March 9 from 10am to 3pm at Havant Leisure Centre.

Hundreds of jobs and apprenticeships will be available from local employers. Visit alanmak.org.uk/jobsfair2018 for more information.