Britain on Wednesday launched its first campaign to combat loneliness and social isolation, promising “practical and emotional support” on the elderly and young disabled people.
Prime Minister Theresa May said “for many people, loneliness is the sad reality of modern life.”
May said her initiative was inspired by the Jo Cox Commission on Loneliness, founded by the Labour lawmaker — Jo Cox, who was murdered in June 2016 by a white supremacist sympathiser.
“We should all do everything we can to see that in Jo’s memory, we bring an end to the acceptance of loneliness for good,’’ she said.
The government cited surveys suggesting that more than nine million people always or often feel lonely, while some 200,000 elderly people reported not having had a conversation with a friend or relative for over one month.
“Up to 85 per cent of disabled adults aged 18 to 34 years old reported feeling lonely,’’ it said.
The government plans to work with local groups, social services and businesses to identify opportunities to tackle loneliness, and build more integrated and resilient communities.
According to Mark Robinson, head of Age UK operations in Barnet, north London, loneliness can kill.
“It’s proven to be worse than smoking 15 cigarettes a day, but it can be overcome and needn’t be a factor in older people’s lives,’’ Robinson said.