03 September 2019

Letter to the Chancellor of the Exchequer - Tackling Loneliness

The following letter from a group of organisations working in loneliness in the UK, including the British Red Cross, was published in The Express on 3 September 2019 calling for the Chancellor to allocate the necessary resources to continue tackling loneliness in the UK. 

For further information: Claudine Frisby
claudinefrisby@redcross.org.uk, Media Officer, 020 7877 7751

Dear Chancellor,

As co-chairs of the Loneliness Action Group and former members of the Jo Cox Commission on Loneliness, we are writing to ensure the government’s Tackling Loneliness agenda is allocated the resources it needs to continue to thrive within this year’s one-year Spending Round.

One in five people of all ages in the UK feel always or often lonely. Through our work, we see the devastating impact feeling this way is having on people up and down the country – from worsened health, to poorer employment prospects. 

We know that when people frequently feel lonely, they are more likely to go to their GP, attend A&E, drop out of work and perform worse at school. Loneliness is linked to an increased risk of heart disease and stroke; depression, cognitive decline, Alzheimer’s and so much more. Government was right to call it one of the greatest public health challenges of our time. 

We commend the cross-Government approach taken to tackle loneliness -a dedicated loneliness fund, a growing programme of work to build the evidence base and a strategy setting out almost 60 new commitments from nine government departments. Government was clear that the ‘Connected Society’ strategy was just a first step, laying the foundation for a generation of policy work.

We understand that there are many calls on the public purse, as the Government rightly focusses on vital issues including crime, education, health and preparing the country to leave the EU. However, we believe that tackling loneliness continues to be one of the critical issues of our time, and therefore as a minimum, we are calling for governmental loneliness activity in 2020/21 to be allocated at least as much as that which has been provided since the inception of the Government’s tackling loneliness agenda. This includes the funding provided by Government towards the £11.5million Building Connections Fund, plus the money needed to implement the almost 60 government commitments across the nine government departments.

However, without more action and at a greater scale, the impact of government’s work so far is unlikely to bind us together and tackle loneliness across the life course in the longer-term as we’ve worked so hard to do together. Specifically, we argue more resource is needed to fund:  

  1. The community and voluntary tackling loneliness schemes that are crucial in supporting the expansion of social prescribing 
  2.  Building the evidence base, so that we can continue to focus our efforts on the greatest need and invest in the most effective schemes
  3. Continue the national conversation about loneliness that the government’s Let’s Talk Loneliness campaign has recently helped to grow
  4. Continue to embed loneliness as a consideration across government through the development of cross-cutting policies that build on progress made in its first year of work. 

We look forward to seeing the Spending Review reaffirm government’s leadership on this important issue and hope to continue supporting you and your colleagues to deliver this ambitious agenda.

Yours sincerely,

Signed: 

Zoe Abrams, Executive Director of Communications and Advocacy
British Red Cross

Paul Gerrard, Campaigns and Public Affairs Director
Co-op

Robin Hewings, Director of Campaigns, Policy and Research
Campaign to End Loneliness

Catherine Anderson, Chief Executive Officer
Jo Cox Foundation

  • The British Red Cross and Co-op have been working in partnership to tackle loneliness since 2015. 
  • Over the last two years more than 10,000 people have received intensive, one-to-one support to tackle loneliness through the partnership’s Connecting Communities service which runs throughout the UK. Three quarters of people using the social prescribing-style service rated themselves less lonely following its help. 
  • The partnership has also published extensive research into loneliness, including shared learning reports highlighting best practice approaches to social prescribing for loneliness and the ground-breaking Trapped In A Bubble research. 

 

 

About British Red Cross:

The British Red Cross helps people in crisis, whoever and wherever they are. We are part of a global voluntary network, responding to conflicts, natural disasters and individual emergencies. We enable vulnerable people in the UK and abroad to prepare for and withstand emergencies in their own communities. And when the crisis is over, we help them to recover and move on with their lives. We believe in the power of kindness. That’s why we connect those who’ve got kindness to share, to those who need it most, every day. Find out more at redcross.org.uk

About the Co-op:

The Co-op is one of the world’s largest consumer co-operatives with interests across food, funerals, insurance, and legal services. It has a clear purpose of championing a better way of doing business for you and your communities. Owned by millions of UK consumers, the Co-op operates 2,600 food stores, over 1,000 funeral homes and it provides products to over 5,100 other stores, including those run by independent co-operative societies and through its wholesale business, Nisa Retail Limited. It has more than 63,000 colleagues and an annual revenue of £9.5bn. coop.co.uk