Loneliness has serious health impacts; it’s reported to be as bad for our health as obesity or smoking 15 cigarettes a day. It also affects communities with people who are lonely withdrawing and contributing less, and places additional demands on our hard-pressed public services.
Historically loneliness was one of the least responded to issues by businesses. Co-op, prompted by the concerns of its members and over 150 years’ commitment to building strong communities, was the first major business to tackle loneliness. BRC has a long history of supporting people in UK communities and its frontline staff and volunteers increasingly reported loneliness was a major issue among people seeking their support.
Together we have changed perceptions that loneliness is an issue only affecting those in later life. We have reduced stigma around admitting feelings of loneliness; raised £6.5million; introduced innovative new services across the UK; inspired hundreds to volunteer to support their communities; and campaigned as members of the Jo Cox Commission to change policy that will positively impact people, communities and society for future generations. Thanks to our work on the commission, we have influenced national policy with UK Government announcing a Minster for Loneliness in response to our recommendations.