We can all help to combat loneliness. Here’s how – Diana Barran

OF all the sacrifices we’ve had to make over the past few months, spending time apart from loved ones has been one of the hardest.
The Minister for Loneliness, Baroness Diana Barran, has urged people to write letters to the isolated as part of Loneliness Awareness Week.The Minister for Loneliness, Baroness Diana Barran, has urged people to write letters to the isolated as part of Loneliness Awareness Week.
The Minister for Loneliness, Baroness Diana Barran, has urged people to write letters to the isolated as part of Loneliness Awareness Week.

Feelings of loneliness are not new – many of us experience them at some point in our lives – and a lot of work was being done to raise awareness and support people before coronavirus struck.

The Yorkshire Post’s readers will be familiar with this paper’s long-standing campaign, which has helped lead the way in tackling the stigma of loneliness.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Yet of late, we have all had no choice but to look loneliness in the eye. That may be because we have experienced it ourselves, or worried about friends and family who are living alone.

Baroness Diana Barran is the Minister for Loneliness.Baroness Diana Barran is the Minister for Loneliness.
Baroness Diana Barran is the Minister for Loneliness.

That is why we are encouraging everyone to write letters and cards to check in on friends and family as part of Loneliness Awareness Week.

Taking the time to write to one another – instead of firing off a quick email or text message – might be a slightly forgotten art, but it’s more important than ever to connect with people, and putting pen to paper is an excellent way of making sure our friends, family and neighbours know we’re there for them.

Research from the Royal Mail shows that nearly three quarters of people (74 per cent) feel that writing letters has positive mental health benefits. I will be writing to a friend who is in her 80s and is living alone, far from her children and grandchildren.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

This week, thanks to our partnership with the Royal Mail and Post Office, a “Let’s Talk Loneliness” postmark will 
be stamped on letters to raise 

A letter writing campaign is at the heart of events to mark Loneliness Awareness Week.A letter writing campaign is at the heart of events to mark Loneliness Awareness Week.
A letter writing campaign is at the heart of events to mark Loneliness Awareness Week.

Of course, writing to each other is not the only way to reach out to friends and family. Technology has allowed us to connect with loved ones across the world, faster than ever before.

The Association for UK Interactive Entertainment (Ukie) is tackling loneliness by encouraging people of all ages to play games and quizzes together online for their Play And Talk weekend on June 20-21.

The Jo Cox Foundation’s Connection Coalition, a group of over 400 organisations ranging from small community groups to national bodies, has the More In Common Hour on Twitter where every Tuesday people can share their positive stories, remember happier times and look forward to things on the horizon.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Next weekend, around Jo Cox’s birthday, the foundation is running The Great Get Together, designed to connect communities through something as simple as having a cup of tea over the hedge, or chatting online or over the phone.

I recently had the pleasure of talking to Kaneez Khan, from Near Neighbours in West Yorkshire, who shared with me the particular fears and pressures on people from BAME communities in her neighbourhood.

During the coronavirus outbreak they have continued their fantastic work, promoting online activities to support people self-isolating, helping local food-shares and clothes banks, and providing reassurance and friendship to groups across the region.

In Government, we recognise and are grateful for the heroic efforts of these individuals and organisations.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

I am delighted to announce that nine organisations will receive a share of £5m as part of a major effort to tackle loneliness, which was pledged as part of the Chancellor’s £750m support package for charities.

The successful groups – which include the Armed Forces charity SSAFA and The English Football League Trust – are providing vital support for a range of vulnerable groups at risk of loneliness at this time, including the elderly, veterans, and people with disabilities.

Loneliness doesn’t discriminate, and I know from personal experience that understanding that many other people feel the way you do can be helpful in and of itself.

We all have a role in looking out for each other during this time – and so many people have been kind in a million small ways.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Whether that’s writing a letter, picking up the phone, joining an online community or delivering shopping for neighbours.

While the past few months have 
been hard for everyone, they’ve also shown the many ways in which a little distance can sometimes bring us closer together.

Baroness Diana Barran is the Minister for Loneliness.

Editor’s note: first and foremost - and rarely have I written down these words with more sincerity - I hope this finds you well.

Almost certainly you are here because you value the quality and the integrity of the journalism produced by The Yorkshire Post’s journalists - almost all of which live alongside you in Yorkshire, spending the wages they earn with Yorkshire businesses - who last year took this title to the industry watchdog’s Most Trusted Newspaper in Britain accolade.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

And that is why I must make an urgent request of you: as advertising revenue declines, your support becomes evermore crucial to the maintenance of the journalistic standards expected of The Yorkshire Post. If you can, safely, please buy a paper or take up a subscription. We want to continue to make you proud of Yorkshire’s National Newspaper but we are going to need your help.

Postal subscription copies can be ordered by calling 0330 4030066 or by emailing [email protected]. Vouchers, to be exchanged at retail sales outlets - our newsagents need you, too - can be subscribed to by contacting subscriptions on 0330 1235950 or by visiting www.localsubsplus.co.uk where you should select The Yorkshire Post from the list of titles available.

If you want to help right now, download our tablet app from the App / Play Stores. Every contribution you make helps to provide this county with the best regional journalism in the country.

Sincerely. Thank you.

James Mitchinson


Comment Guidelines

National World encourages reader discussion on our stories. User feedback, insights and back-and-forth exchanges add a rich layer of context to reporting. Please review our Community Guidelines before commenting.