THE NEW loneliness minister has admitted there will be no quick fix to tackling the “phenomenal” challenge of loneliness - as Prime Minister Theresa May commended The Yorkshire Post on its “vital” campaign to tackle the issues.
In her first newspaper interview since taking on the role, Tracey Crouch said long-term coordinated action was needed to tackle loneliness - but admitted the crisis would not be solved overnight.
But two weeks on from Theresa May’s much-feted announcement of a cross-Governmental strategy to tackle loneliness, which affects 9m people across the UK, the Government is still not able to put a figure on amount it is pledging to tackling loneliness.
Today The Yorkshire Post marks four years since the launch of its multi award-winning campaign, Loneliness: The Hidden Epidemic, and pledges to continue fighting for those people in our region suffering in the clutches of social isolation.
The Big Interview: Loneliness Minister Tracey Crouch on the ‘phenomenal’ challenge ahead
The Prime Minister thanked this newspaper for “shining a spotlight” on the issue in our “commendable” campaign.
She said: “This paper has made its mark in two vital ways – it has inspired people here in Yorkshire to donate their time to initiatives to tackle loneliness, getting vulnerable individuals together through lunches and social events.
“Just as importantly, it has enhanced people’s understanding of loneliness as something that can have truly devastating consequences on individuals of all ages and from all backgrounds.”
Mrs May said the Government was determined to continue the legacy of murdered Batley MP Jo Cox, who worked with The Yorkshire Post to “push this issue up the agenda”, with its new loneliness minister.
“We want to stop loneliness being a stark reality for so many and by working together I believe we can make a real difference to people’s lives,” the Prime Minister added.
Ms Crouch said work had already begun in the wake of recommendations by the Jo Cox Commission on Loneliness, which launched a far-reaching report into the issue in December.
She said one of the first steps in tackling loneliness was recognition, and said this newspaper was “enormously important” in its work highlighting the issue.
She added: ”Raising the profile of the issue is the first step. Making sure that we have coordinated understanding and approach to tackling isolation is one of the great challenges and that’s what I will be doing over the coming months and hopefully years in looking how we tackle this.
“We are not going to be able to solve this problem overnight, or indeed within the next 12 months, but we can start by setting out a framework of how we can have a proper coordinated approach.”
She insisted there would be funding, but said no figure was yet available, and it was working with the Jo Cox Commission on co-designing a new funding pot.
The executive director of the Campaign to End Loneliness, launch partner of The Hidden Epidemic campaign, Laura Alcock-Ferguson, said: “The Yorkshire Post is a pioneer of loneliness. Four years ago, loneliness was simply not part of the national conversation. In fact, it was something of a taboo.
“Now the issue is on the public and political agenda like never before; we are proud of the part that the Hidden Epidemic campaign has played in this major shift.”