A Connected Society
The UK government published a policy paper in October which outlined a strategy for tackling loneliness:
This strategy sets out the approach to tackling loneliness in England. It marks a shift in the way we see and act on loneliness, both within government and in society more broadly. It builds on the work of many organisations and individuals over the years, and is government’s first major contribution to the national conversation on loneliness and the importance of social connections.
“Across our communities there are people who can go for days, weeks or even a month without seeing a friend or family member. There are people who miss the camaraderie of some company, the support of a friendly voice, or just someone who can make them smile or laugh to lift their spirits” Theresa May, Prime Minister.
In January 2018 the Prime Minister welcomed the work of the Jo Cox Commission on Loneliness, and committed government to implementing many of its recommendations, including to publish this strategy. In June 2018, the Prime Minister announced £20 million of funding, including the £11.5 million Building Connections Fund, to support voluntary, community and charitable organisations to tackle loneliness, building on the fantastic work they are already doing. This complements the wider ambitions of the Civil Society Strategy to enable civil society to thrive.
Overall, this strategy describes government’s current understanding of the issues and sets out a powerful vision of its ambitions for change. It commits to some practical actions that government will now take to improve how organisations, community infrastructure and our wider culture support people’s social relationships. It also explains that government will learn from these policy changes, and will use that learning to inform future work. This is the approach we need to take long term to make this major social change.
But just as all of us can be affected by loneliness, so all of us can take action to help defeat it. This strategy also highlights a wider set of ambitions around the role of local authorities, the voluntary sector and businesses, as well as families, communities, friends and the individual. To achieve long-lasting change and improve social connections across society we must all play our role and work together across sectors.