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WHO IS responsible for tackling loneliness?

This was one of the key questions during a debate at the Ending Loneliness summit yesterday.

The panel featured speakers from across the health, volunteering, social care and local authority spectrum, and saw the spotlight shone on communities, the health service, social care and councils.

Shelagh Marshall, an older persons’ champion in North Yorkshire, argued that elected representatives should take the lead, saying they had a “unique opportunity” to make a difference.

She said the transfer of many public health services to local authorities put the impetus on councils to do everything they could to tackle the issue.

Dr Barbara Hanratty, a GP and senior lecturer at the University of York, argued for a public health approach on loneliness, with prevention at the core.

She said: “Rather than having GPs as the target there are other members of the primary care team that are able to identify people at risk.”

Mick Ward, head of commissioning for adult social care at Leeds City Council, highlighted the good work of adult social care, sighting the authority’s ‘neighbourhood networks’ as a shining example of good practice.

And Tracey Robbins, programme manager at the Joseph Rowntree Foundation argued that communities should lead the charge.

Kate Jopling, director of the Campaign to end Loneliness, said: “Everyone recognises that all of those people have a role, but what we really need is for those people to recognise exactly what the role they can play is, and bring those efforts together so we’re really starting to have a concerted push on this issue.”