Britain has appointed a Minister for Loneliness, as recommended by a parliamentary commission, to combat the isolation that affects more than one in ten people in the UK.
The position has been assigned to Sports Minister Tracey Crouch, who adds this responsibility to her portfolio.
“For too many people, loneliness is the sad reality of modern life,” said Prime Minister Theresa May in a statement. “I want to confront this challenge for our society and for all of us to take action to address the loneliness endured by the elderly, by carers, by those who have lost loved ones – people who have no one to talk to or share their thoughts and experiences with,” May added
The measure comes in response to a comprehensive report by a parliamentary committee following work undertaken by Jo Cox, the young Labour MP murdered by an extreme right-wing activist in the final stretch of the Brexit referendum campaign. Loneliness is one of the issues to which Cox dedicated her political career.
The creation of the new ministerial post is part of a broader government strategy that, following the recommendations of the Jo Cox Commission, will collect statistics, work on a method to measure loneliness and finance groups that work with the connectivity of people. “I am sure that with the help of volunteers, activists, companies and my colleagues in parliament, we will be able to achieve sufficient progress in the fight against loneliness,” said Crouch.
Most people over 75 live alone and about 200,000 Britons spend more than a month without having a conversation with a family member or friend, according to data collected by the government.
Many UK doctors receive between one and five patients each day who make their main appointments because they feel lonely, according to the Campaign to End Loneliness, an organisation that raises awareness around the health problems associated with loneliness.
According to scientific studies, loneliness can cause dementia, premature death and high blood pressure.