Tracey Crouch, the world’s first minister for loneliness appointed by the UK government this year, is set to launch her first anti-loneliness strategy to combat the scourge of isolation. The UK Government’s research had found that the young people can be affected by loneliness more than the elderly, and she will unveil a plan on Monday that will feature a pledge by businesses to do more to help staff cope with the sense of isolation, according to Crouch. The additional ministerial portfolio was created in January in memory of Opposition Labour MP Jo Cox – murdered by a right-wing fanatic in June 2016.
At the time of her death, Cox had been conducting research on the issue of loneliness, much of which has been adopted by the Conservative Party led government. Crouch said the new government strategy would also aim to help new parents, who risk isolation after they get home with a new-born. “Loneliness can affect anyone,” she told The Sunday Times in an interview. The government research shows that young people are often getting identified as lonely.
“Our statistics show that 16 to 24 year olds are identifying as lonely as often, or more often, than older people. When people see what they think is utter perfection behind social media filtering it affects them,” she said. The government is using a definition of loneliness as a “subjective, unwelcome feeling of lack or loss of companionship” which “happens when we have a mismatch between the quantity and quality of social relationships that we have and those that we want”. That means it can touch even those with large families and many friends, she added.
The minister informed that she received thousands of emails and letters over the subject after she was appointed as the loneliness minister. “When I was appointed the loneliness minister (in January) I got thousands of emails and letters but the one that sticks in my mind was from a 30-something single professional who had moved to London for her dream job,” Crouch told the newspaper.
“She was doing brilliantly but said she had never felt more lonely — and her bosses and colleagues had no idea that when she finally switches off she feels overwhelming loneliness. Businesses shouldn’t be turning a blind eye to people working late,” she said. The minister said the new government strategy would also aim to help new parents, who risk isolation after they get home with a new-born. “There are trigger points for loneliness like bereavement but a new baby is another,” she said.