Loneliness has been front and centre of discussions in recent years. In May this year, we supported Mental Health Awareness Week 2022 highlighting the theme of loneliness. Our services planned some thought-provoking activities and shared their top tips for dealing with loneliness.
The momentum is set to continue as we support Loneliness Awareness Week this week (13-17 June, 2022).
Loneliness Awareness Week was launched in 2017 by the Marmalade Trust, and this year the theme of the campaign is “That Lonely Feeling”.
The idea of the campaign is to share our experiences of loneliness using the hashtag #ThatLonelyFeeling – this video from the Marmalade Trust shows some examples of the situations where we may experience loneliness:
As this week is centred on loneliness, we thought we would take the opportunity to dive a little deeper into the Government’s latest report on dealing with loneliness.
In February 2022, the Government released its “Tackling Loneliness” annual report, reflecting on the third year since the original strategy, “A connected society: a strategy for tackling loneliness – laying the foundations for change”, was published on 15 October, 2018.
This was the world’s first Government strategy aimed at dealing with loneliness, and featured 3 key objectives:
So, what has happened within the last year to help achieve these objectives?
The “Tackling Loneliness Annual Report 2022” details the actions the Government has taken in the past year to work towards achieving the three key objectives:
In the work to tackle the stigma surrounding loneliness, the “Let’s Talk Loneliness” campaign was launched in 2019, which kick-started the conversation around loneliness across the UK.
This year, the Government aimed to continue the conversation with the launch of the “Lift Someone Out of Loneliness” campaign, aimed at individuals aged 18-24 dealing with loneliness. Government insight revealed that the 18-24 age group were at a high risk of experiencing loneliness, but were also the least likely to seek support.
The Government also joined the NHS Every Mind Matters campaign and over the next year, the aim is to continue working with organisations as part of this campaign to continue to grow the discussions around dealing with loneliness.
In addition to the campaign activity, the Government launched the Loneliness Engagement Fund in September 2021. This fund awarded grants of up to £50,000 to organisations to help with communication and engagement activities to reduce feelings of stigma and encourage individuals to ask for help if they need it.
This objective is focused on the Government working together across departments, and also in collaboration with external organisations across all sectors to facilitate and support action both on a local level and nationally to tackle loneliness.
In the past year, the Government delivered the Local Connections Fund, in partnership with The National Lottery Community Fund. The fund awarded small grants (up to £2,500) to around 1,700 small local organisations, charities, and community groups, with the aim of bringing people and communities together in a safe environment.
In addition to this, the Government published the “Emerging Together: The Tackling Loneliness Network Action Plan” in May 2021.
This is an action plan created in partnership with the Tackling Loneliness Network, a network of over 100 organisations from all sectors formed in response to the Covid-19 pandemic and lockdowns to help connect individuals and groups at risk of isolation, and tackle loneliness during the pandemic.
Further work internally within the Government is continuing, with departments working together to achieve the aims set out in the 2018 strategy. Examples of this work highlighted within the Tackling Loneliness Annual Report 2022 include:
Over the course of the next year, the report details the Government’s plans to continue to grow the Tackling Loneliness Network, supporting its members to collaborate and share ideas with each other. Furthermore, the Government commit to embedding tackling loneliness in relevant Government work.
The final objective outlined in the original strategy was a commitment to contributing to the evidence on loneliness.
Throughout the past year, the Government continued to measure loneliness in adults (16+) in England. The 2020-2021 Community Life Survey results found that the level of adults reporting that they felt lonely ‘always’ or ‘often’ was 6%, similar to the findings in 2019/2020.
In August 2021, an evaluation on the Building Connections Fund (BCF), the first ever Government fund dedicated to dealing with loneliness in England, was published. Read the full evaluation here.
The Government set up a new Tackling Loneliness Evidence Group which includes academics and experts in the field, designed to identify gaps in the current evidence on loneliness. In January 2022, the Tackling Loneliness Evidence Group published a report highlighting current evidence gaps and the Government commissioned new research based on the findings from this report.
For the year ahead, the findings from the 2021-2022 Community Life Survey will be published, providing up to date figures on the level of loneliness in the UK. The Government will also continue to work with the Tackling Loneliness Evidence Group to identify further research gaps, and work to fill these gaps where possible.
Now that the discussion around loneliness has opened up, it is important to keep it going. The conversation this week will be amplified with lots of organisations supporting Loneliness Awareness Week, and the Government has taken many positive steps over the past year to work towards the aims of the Tackling Loneliness Strategy, with a commitment to continuing this work over the next year.
Supporting each other is one of the best ways we can tackle loneliness – check in with others if you’re worried, and remember to reach out for help if you need it.
Photo by Gabriel on Unsplash.