Yesterday, the House of Commons included a debate about tackling the issue of loneliness in our communities. You can read the full text of the debate here. You can even see the full video of the debate as it happened here.
The late Jo Cox set up a commission on loneliness before her death, and that commission, now called the Jo Cox Commission on Loneliness, is co-chaired by MPs Rachel Reeves and Seema Kennedy.
During yesterday’s debate, Rachel said:
Young or old, loneliness does not discriminate, and that is the guiding light of the commission’s work. Over the last year, we have shone a spotlight on some of the different groups who experience loneliness. Loneliness can often be triggered by moments of transition in our lives, whether it is losing our job, going to university, having a child for the first time or bereavement. All those things can be transition points for loneliness.
As we all know, loneliness is bad for our mental health, but it is bad for our physical health as well. Research suggests that loneliness is worse for us than obesity, in terms of mortality, and that being acutely lonely is as bad for someone’s health as smoking 15 cigarettes a day. Just last month, Helen Stokes-Lampard, head of the Royal College of General Practitioners, said that loneliness can be as bad for someone’s health as a chronic long-term condition.
So what can we, as WI members, do to help?
On a local level, we can try to identify people in our own communities who might be lonely. Remember, loneliness can affect people of all ages, both men and women, in all walks of life. Perhaps your WI could hold a regular coffee morning for those on their own. Or start a community lunch club?
On a national level, why not write to your MP to express your views on the issue? If you’re not sure where to find your MP’s contact details, this site should help.