Members of Parliament, policy makers and thirteen leading organisations have come together to expose the growing crisis of loneliness and find ways to overcome it. Jo Cox had taken the first steps towards setting up the Commission before she was murdered in her constituency of Batley and Spen last June. Jo was a doer not a complainer and was dedicated to helping combat loneliness after she witnessed the extent of the crisis in her constituency. As Jo said in December 2015 ‘young or old, loneliness doesn’t discriminate...it is something many of us could easily help with. Looking in on a neighbour, visiting an elderly relative or making that call or visit we’ve been promising to a friend we haven’t seen in a long time.’
Following Jo’s example of working across party lines, Jo Cox Commission on Loneliness will now be chaired by Seema Kennedy (Cons) and Rachel Reeves (Lab). The Commission aims to not simply highlight the problem but more importantly act as a "call to action". Under the slogan ‘Start A Conversation’, the Commission aims to mobilise the public to help themselves - educating people on how they can become the remedy – whether it be talking to a neighbour, visiting an old friend, or just making time for the people they meet. The Commission will also target businesses and employer organisations and look at what action local and national Government can take to combat loneliness.
A study by The Co-op and the British Red Cross reveals over 9 million people in the UK across all adult ages – more than the population of London – are either always or often lonely. The public and political attention on loneliness has sharpened significantly in recent years as the social, economic and moral case grows in awareness, evidence and support. 88% of people agree that loneliness is a serious problem in the UK. The connections between loneliness and poor mental and physical health and wellbeing are increasingly recognised. Being chronically lonely can be as bad for your health as cigarette smoking.