NATIONAL: Government appoint minister for loneliness

A minister has been appointed to tackle loneliness. Picture: PA Photo/thinkstockphotos.
A minister has been appointed to tackle loneliness. Picture: PA Photo/thinkstockphotos.
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A MINISTER for loneliness has been appointed to help tackle the misery endured by around nine million Britons.

Theresa May has backed a series of recommendations made by the Jo Cox Commission on Loneliness, which highlighted how widespread the problem is.

Ms Cox, who was brutally murdered by a far-right terrorist, campaigned across the political divide before her death to find ways to combat loneliness.

As well as announcing Tracey Crouch will become the minister responsible for the issue, the prime minister said a cross-government strategy to find ways to stop people feeling lonely will be published later this year.

Today, Mrs May will host a Downing Street reception to celebrate Ms Cox’s legacy.

Ahead of the event, she said: ‘For far too many people, loneliness is the sad reality of modern life.

‘Jo Cox recognised the scale of loneliness across the country and dedicated herself to doing all she could to help those affected.

‘So I am pleased that government can build on her legacy with a ministerial lead for loneliness who will work with the commission, businesses and charities to shine a light on the issue and pull together all strands of government to create the first ever strategy.

‘We should all do everything we can to see that, in Jo’s memory, we bring an end to the acceptance of loneliness for good.’

The Office for National Statistics will help to devise a method of measuring loneliness and a fund will be set up to allow government and charities to find innovative ways to deal with the problem.

Ms Crouch said: ‘I am sure that with the support of volunteers, campaigners, businesses and my fellow MPs from all sides of the House of Commons, 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.’

A study by The Co-op and the British Red Cross showed more than nine million people always or often feel lonely, while Age UK found 200,000 older people have not had a conversation with a friend or relative in more than a month.