The British Red Cross has called on the UK Government to continue building on the work it has done to tackle loneliness in the last 12 months and welcomed efforts to provide even greater support to those communities hit hardest by Covid-19.
The Department of Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) has published its second annual report on loneliness, following a year in which loneliness has been in the spotlight more than ever because coronavirus has limited people’s ability to stay connected.
The Government’s latest review includes commitments to find out which areas of the UK are hardest hit by loneliness, to address issues around access to public transport and to work with charities and other bodies to continue the find the best ways of supporting people of lonely and helping them to make quality connections where they live.
British Red Cross executive director Zoe Abrams said:
“This has been an extraordinarily tough year for everyone but for those feeling lonely, cut off and without anyone to turn to, it has been an even more troubling and isolating experience.
“The Government has rightly committed energy and resources to tackle loneliness during this crisis and it is encouraging to see that it does not intend to take its eye off the ball as we shape our recovery from this pandemic.
“Commitments have been made to increase support for communities most impacted by Covid-19, to examine new ways of plugging holes in the public transport network, to continue to try and learn more about this issue, and to keep on working with organisations like the British Red Cross and other members of the Loneliness Action Group as we seek solutions and share learning.
“There is still a lot of work to be done and, while this pandemic has truly put the spotlight on this issue, many matters – including the digital exclusion that sees far too many people unable to connect and stay in touch with others online – still need to be addressed. We look forward to hearing more from parliamentarians about this when the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Loneliness publishes the findings of their inquiry in March. Our work goes on and we must all work together if we are to bring everyone with us when the worst of this crisis is behind us.”
British Red Cross head of health and resilience policy Olivia Field said:
“We welcome the Government’s commitments to continue to build on the work they have already done to tackle loneliness – especially during the coronavirus crisis – and look forward to working with ministers across departments as they assess and address the long-term impacts this pandemic will have on mental health and wellbeing.
“It is hugely encouraging to see a cross-government group of ministers has been appointed to undertake this work as loneliness is an issue that can impact on every area of our lives.
“It is also essential, as we look beyond this crisis, that we build back better in the heart of our communities, ensuring people have access to the places, spaces and activities that bind them where they live. The Government’s commitment to take an in-depth look at the impact of loneliness in local communities will go a long way towards helping us gauge the true scale of the problem and examine its root causes.
“We must continue to talk about loneliness, continue to reduce stigma, and continue to encourage those who could use a little help and support to reach out and connect with others. The Government’s continued commitment to its Let’s Talk Loneliness campaign will help to keep this issue in the spotlight as we work towards a brighter and better-connected future.”
Anyone who is feeling lonely and would like to reach out can call the British Red Cross coronavirus support line on 0808 196 3651 or access the charity’s online loneliness resources at www.redcross.org.uk/loneliness-resources. Hard copy versions of many of resources are available for those who don’t have access to the internet.