Neil O’Brien OBE, MP for Harborough, Oadby & Wigston will be the new Chair of the APPG on Loneliness
British Red Cross, which acts as the secretariat for the Group, says his appointment comes as coronavirus has accentuated feelings of loneliness and isolation for many
The charity wants government to build on the increased community spirit created by the crisis by committing to funding and action to keep people connected
Throughout 2020, the APPG on Loneliness is running a major independent inquiry into tackling loneliness, aiming to explore crucial but complex policy areas and develop tangible and ambitious next steps for government.
The consultation, which is live until the end of April comes at a time when social distancing has put millions at greater risk of loneliness
Neil O’Brien MP, new chair of the APPG on Loneliness says:
“Before the coronavirus emergency, loneliness was already one of the country’s greatest public health issues.
“Now, in light of increased isolation as well as the economic and health impacts of the pandemic, tackling loneliness presents an ever greater challenge, but by working together it can be overcome.
“Loneliness isn’t just about feelings of sadness or separation or a lack of meaningful relationships with others. It’s also about what that can bring, including poor health and well-being, less productive lives and the devastating knock-on effects that has for individuals, communities and public services.
“It is a problem I said I would work to solve in my very first speech in the House of Commons and today, in light of Covid-19, I am more determined than ever.
“I look forward to chairing the APPG on Loneliness, and in particular, taking its major inquiry into loneliness forward.”
Zoe Abrams, Executive Director of Communications and Advocacy, British Red Cross says:
“The British Red Cross is committed, along with the Co-op, to supporting the APPG on Loneliness at this critical time. We look forward to working with its new chair, Neil O’Brien MP, as well as its ever-growing number of cross-party parliamentarians, to reduce the impact of loneliness and isolation on those most at risk.
“Seeing communities come together to support vulnerable individuals and themselves through this emergency has been uplifting and inspiring.
“But, long before this crisis, the British Red Cross highlighted the extent of loneliness and isolation in the UK, with one in five people affected. That figure could easily rise in the wake of coronavirus, with the enormous social and economic challenges ahead likely to hit those who have the least ability to cope hardest. Loneliness can often be triggered by loss, financial hardship, poor mental health, stress and significant life events like job losses.
“But, we also see through our work how resilient people and communities can be when they are better connected, and how that can protect against further harm. Working with the APPG and led by insights from its inquiry, we will continue to support policy and actions by government that we believe will help shift the dial on loneliness once and for all.”