Loneliness Annual Report: the first year

Posted 05.02.2020

There were no dissenting voices to Tracey Crouch, World’s First Minister for Loneliness, when she said “nobody should feel alone or be left with no-one to turn to” (15th October 2018).   Loneliness is a major epidemic which blights the life of so many people, regardless of their age, ethnicity, gender or sexual orientation.  As Jo Cox said, loneliness doesn’t discriminate!

Across D2N2, Stakeholder Managers are connecting with the newly emerging Social Prescribers whose role it is to encourage positive connections across our communities.

Social prescribing employ individuals (link workers) who take referrals from GP surgeries and local agencies, they work with people to produce a tailored plan to meet the person’s wellbeing needs. They help people to overcome feelings of loneliness by connecting people to activities and support within their local area. This can include a range of activities from arts participation, befriending and sport or exercise, money advice, housing and/or employment advice.  Social Prescribers take on the roles previously taken by friendly people at the Post Office or milk rounds people (which are becoming rare).

The expansion of social prescribing is set to change the way that people attending GP’s surgeries who are experiencing loneliness are treated. This recognises that medical prescriptions alone cannot address the root causes of loneliness.  Millions of pounds are being invested in ways of connecting people with community support that can restore social contact in their lives.  It is hoped that Social Prescribing will play a critical role in the prevention of ill-health.  Through the D2N2 Growth Hub, businesses are encouraged to support work place wellbeing.   Across D2N2 we see the emergence of business champions who will tackle loneliness in the workplace and tech companies who are addressing the challenges of isolation and bullying in cyberspace.

Social Prescribers and Social Connectors are developing their knowledge of community cafes, gardens and art spaces which provide opportunities to connect.   One of the best ways of tackling loneliness is through simple acts of kindness, from taking a moment to talk to a friend to helping someone in need.

The relationships we have with our friends, family, neighbours and colleagues are, for many of us, the most important things in our lives. Increasingly, we understand the link between having strong and meaningful social connections and living a healthy and successful life. And we see that having more connected communities means a more thriving, productive society, in which we can all contribute and live fulfilling lives. Loneliness isn’t new, but the way our society works is changing rapidly.  Whilst changes within our society bring opportunities – including new ways of connecting and communicating with others, it also means it’s now possible to spend a day working, shopping, travelling, and interacting with business and with public services, without speaking to another human being.

Social prescribing enables organisations to refer people to a range of services that offer support for social, emotional or practical needs.  This could include feelings of loneliness, as well as for debt, employment or housing problems, or difficulties with their relationships.

The first Annual Report on tackling loneliness provides a progress update since the publication of the cross-government Loneliness Strategy in October 2018, (A Connected Society: A strategy for tackling loneliness), and sets out the government’s future direction of travel.

For more information on the Government’s work and announcements on loneliness, visit the website.

BBO is having a significant impact on individual lives, supporting people to increase their confidence, independence and achieve their employment aspirations.

See what our participants have to say in these case studies …

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