Tackling loneliness in a new Government initiative

  • Charlotte Macken

    Charlotte Macken

    Prize Design Manager

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23 Apr 2020

Loneliness isn’t a new issue. In 2016 to 2017, 5% of UK adults reported feeling lonely “often” or “always” but vital social distancing measures to tackle COVID-19 have now made loneliness a daily reality for many in the UK. 

On the 22nd April, the Government announced a five point plan to tackle loneliness during the COVID-19 lockdown. The aim of the plan is to ensure that, for people of all ages and backgrounds, staying at home does not need to lead to loneliness.  

Tackling loneliness, building social connections and strengthening communities has been a key theme in Nesta Challenges’ work since our inception. Through prizes like Tech to Connect, we have a track record of supporting innovators, communities and businesses to develop a common understanding of the problems they face and work together to solve them. We’ll bring that experience to bear as part of the Government’s new Tackling Loneliness Network.

“Coronavirus and social distancing has forced all of us to look loneliness in the eye. So recognising the signs and tackling the stigma has never been more important. We’re launching this plan now to help ensure no one needs to feel lonely in the weeks ahead.”

Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden

In collaboration with the Connection Coalition, organised by Jo Cox Foundation, the Network will convene charities, businesses, organisations and public figures. It will explore ways to bring people together to build strong community spirit, with a focus on groups at particular risk of loneliness, and will work to continue these initiatives in the future. 

Other members of the Network include the BBC, British Red Cross, Campaign to End Loneliness, Samaritans, Age UK, Arts Council England, Co-op Foundation, The Cares Family, University College London, Independent Age, Libraries Connected and Sense.

We’re looking forward to working with other Network members to ensure that great solutions and approaches to tackling loneliness are supported and shared. 

“Maintaining social connection at a time of physical distancing is vitally important. And when we eventually come out of this crisis, we will emerge stronger and healthier if we act now to establish a legacy of stronger connections that are maintained in the future.”

Catherine Anderson, CEO of The Jo Cox Foundation

If you are lonely you can:

  • Keep in touch with friends, family and neighbours
  • Ask for help if you need shopping, medicine or are feeling lonely
  • Set a routine with online activities, regular tasks or by volunteering

If you are worried about someone who is lonely:

  • Phone a friend or family member you think may be lonely
  • Smile, wave or chat from a safe distance with a neighbour
  • Help out through volunteering by picking up food, medicine or by offering regular conversation to someone living alone

Follow us on Twitter for regular updates on the initiative.