Loneliness is an epidemic. The launch of the Jo Cox Commission on Loneliness report today marks a significant moment in our ambition to end this looming social crisis.
Throughout 2017, the Commission has highlighted the impact that loneliness has on diverse groups. From older people to refugees, to young people to carers: it is clear that loneliness can no longer be ignored.
The health impacts of loneliness – both physical and mental – are devastating. Loneliness is as bad for our health as smoking 15 cigarettes a day, and worse for us than obesity. Chronic loneliness is cutting lives short, and the problem is growing. But, the Campaign to End Loneliness has found that for every £1 invested in tackling loneliness we can save £3 in health costs: it pays to tackle loneliness.
The work of the Jo Cox Commission will go a long way towards helping us to break down the stigma of loneliness. Our research found that more than half of British adults say admitting to loneliness is difficult – and three quarters of over-65s (76%) say they would find it hard to admit to being lonely because they do not want to be a burden. This stigma is further isolating millions people all over the UK.
The report makes clear that we all have a responsibility to end loneliness. From businesses to government to charities to individuals – everyone can do something. Together, we can change attitudes, behaviour, policy and practice, and inspire action to end loneliness.
As a proud member of the Commission, we are delighted to have been part of this past year of work, and we thank all of our fellow members for their contributions. In particular, we thank Seema Kennedy MP and Rachel Reeves MP for their dedication to the issue, and Jo Cox’s family for continuing such important work in her memory.
Loneliness is not inevitable. We must challenge it in every way we can. With Christmas just ten days away, now is the perfect time begin. The Campaign to End Loneliness will continue the legacy of Jo Cox’s work by making loneliness everyone’s business. Join the Campaign to End Loneliness today.
By Laura Alcock-Ferguson, Executive Director of the Campaign to End Loneliness