Parliamentary report on loneliness
All-Party Parliamentary Group on Loneliness (APPG on Loneliness) has published its first inquiry report makes the case for a ‘connected recovery’ from the Covid-19 pandemic. A connected recovery: findings of the APPG on Loneliness Inquiry explores problems and identified solutions within four crucial policy areas, including:
- translating national policy into local action through local authorities
- community infrastructure (including housing, transport and public spaces)
- how to adequately fund the voluntary and community sector upon which social prescribing depends; and
- designing and implementing ways to test the implications of government policies on loneliness.
Key inquiry findings are that:
- there are too many barriers preventing people from connecting – such as a lack of safe, welcoming and accessible green spaces, parks and gardens, public toilets, playing areas, local bus services, and ramps for people with disabilities
- too many people face barriers to digital connection as a result of lack of access to mobile technology and the internet, as well as a lack of digital skills and confidence
- poorly designed or unsuitable housing and neighbourhoods can make it hard for people to meet each other, maintain social connections and develop a sense of belonging
- some communities and groups were highlighted as facing particular disadvantage in relation to transport and mobility.
The APPG argues that the Prime Minister should commit to a “Connected Recovery” from the COVID-19 pandemic, recognising the need for long-term work to rebuild social connections following periods of isolation and the importance of connection to resilience to future shocks.
To achieve this, the APPG sets out a roadmap, calling on the government to adopt 15 recommendations, designed to:
- tackle loneliness through national leadership, including re-establishing the cross-government approach to tackling loneliness, long-term funding and improving the evidence base
- translate national policy into local action, including incentivising local authorities and their partners to develop local action plans to tackle loneliness
- invest in the community and social infrastructure needed to connect, particularly in areas with higher levels of deprivation. This should include a long-term investment in the voluntary, community, faith and social enterprise sector to realise the full potential of social prescribing – a flagship of the Government’s original loneliness strategy
- loneliness proof all new transport and housing developments, and close the digital divide by increasing digital skills and confidence.