19 September 2019

Loneliness Action Group leads calls for long-term action on impact of loneliness

British Red Cross volunteers bringing lonely people together by teaching them how to use the internet on the a computer, mobile phone and on a tablet.

Further information: British Red Cross Press Office
Contact numbers: 0207 877 7557 // 07710 391 703
Spokespersons: Zöe Abrams, British Red Cross executive director for communications and advocacy
Paul Gerrard, Co-op campaigns and public affairs director

Loneliness Action Group leads calls for long-term action on impact of loneliness

Campaigners are calling on politicians to remain united in the fight against loneliness and social isolation.

The Loneliness Action Group is urging all political parties to continue to work together to put in place lasting measures to help tackle the issue in the long term.

It makes the calls in A connected society? Assessing progress in tackling loneliness, a report published today (19 September) on the Government’s work during the seven months following the publication of its loneliness strategy in October 2018.

Almost one in five people in the UK report feeling often or always lonely, with many struggling with their physical and mental health as a result.

The battle to tackle loneliness and isolation was a passion of the late Jo Cox MP and has attracted considerable cross-party support. The Jo Cox Foundation is one of 50 members of the Loneliness Action Group, a network led by the British Red Cross and Co-op. The Group believes real strides have been made to address the issue in the last year but it’s now time for all government departments to ramp up their efforts.

The Red Cross and Co-op will be attending the upcoming Labour and Conservative party conferences to urge politicians to work together to do even more.

The Loneliness Action Group is asking for an increase in funding to tackle loneliness and help people to feel less isolated and more connected to their communities.

It also wants to see decisions made on converting pilot projects into lasting programmes, and a drive to deal with some of the underlying issues that exacerbate loneliness and isolation – including problems of inequality around poor or insecure housing and a lack of public transport, services and facilities in the community.

Action to tackle loneliness has included advancing the practice of social prescribing. This sees people supported to attend groups and activities in their community, and there has been a commitment to employ 1,000 NHS link workers by the end of 2021, rising to more than 4,000 by 2023.

British Red Cross executive director for communications and advocacy, Zöe Abrams, said: “Politicians of all parties have rightly acknowledged that loneliness and social isolation leads to real problems and it’s time to look at the bigger picture.

“It isn’t right that people should suffer more for the lack of a decent bus service or because they use a wheelchair and are unable to get in and out of their home – those sorts of barriers need to be addressed.

“The groundwork has been done but, if we are to see a lasting impact and realise the ambitious vision Jo Cox inspired all of us to pursue, we must continue to invest and put in place measures and services that will help people connect better to each other and their communities.”

Co-op campaigns and public affairs director, Paul Gerrard, said: “We know that loneliness impacts one in five of the population and so it is imperative that the Government continues to champion initiatives aimed at reducing its effect. 

“By directing more resources to tackle loneliness and social isolation many more people will feel less isolated and more connected to their communities.”

Read the full report here: redcross.org.uk/shadowreport


Notes to editors:
For more information and case studies please contact the British Red Cross Press Office on 0207 877 7557 or 077 391 703 or email press@redcross.org.uk.

  • 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.
  • Together the British Red Cross and Co-op co-chair the Loneliness Action Group and also provide the secretariat for the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Loneliness.

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

Loneliness Action Group leads calls for long-term action on impact of loneliness