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Response to government's Loneliness Strategy

02/11/2018

The government recently published its Loneliness Strategy “A Connected Society. A strategy for tackling loneliness – Laying the foundations for change”. This is a plan designed to facilitate a shift in the way that government, the public, private and voluntary sectors, and society understand and act on loneliness and isolation. The Strategy highlights the three overarching goals guiding the government’s work on loneliness:

  • The government’s commitment to play its part in improving the evidence base in order to better understand what causes loneliness, its impacts and what works to tackle it;
  • Embedding loneliness as a consideration across government policy, recognising the wide range of factors that can exacerbate feelings of loneliness and support people’s social wellbeing and resilience;
  • Building a national conversation on loneliness, to raise awareness of its impacts and to help tackle stigma.

We welcome the government’s Loneliness Strategy and are pleased to see that it makes reference to how initiatives, resources and services such as social prescribing (including befriending), inclusive transport, public space, housing and digital technology will play a role in tackling loneliness and connecting communities – with government working in partnership with the public, private and voluntary sectors to achieve this. This links in well with the Civil Society Strategy that we fed into earlier this year.

Although local infrastructure is not specifically cited in the government’s Loneliness Strategy, and befriending services only get a brief mention, we will continue to highlight their importance in supporting the Voluntary and Community Sector (VCS) in any attempts to tackle loneliness and isolation in our communities. This connective role will help to facilitate networking and collaborations between national and local government – and other key sectors, such as the NHS (through the Joined Up Care Derbyshire work) – and local communities and the VCS.

What we hope for is that government will continue to acknowledge the vital role that local infrastructure organisations, such as CVSs, and the wider VCS – through services such as befriending – will play, and will continue to work in partnership to make sure that our communities are stronger, more inclusive, resilient and connected through empowering social action. This can be done by ensuring that there is genuine engagement with those on the ground who have the knowledge and experience, and that there is sufficient funding to make sure that this can happen.

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