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loneliness croppedEarlier today the Jo Cox Commission on Loneliness, chaired by Jo’s friends Seema Kennedy MP and Rachel Reeves MP, launched a report on its findings in Batley alongside Jo’s family.

The report marks the culmination of the year-long commission that Jo started before she was killed. Amongst the report’s findings are that:

  • 9 million adults are often or always lonely;
  • Loneliness is as harmful to health as obesity or smoking 15 cigarettes a day;
  • There is currently a gap in national leadership on loneliness and a national strategy is vitally needed.​

loneliness graphic
One of several graphics in the report illustrating the prevalence of loneliness

Foreward to the report

loneliness report coverOver the past year we have been proud to chair the Jo Cox Commission on Loneliness, which Jo set up before her death in summer 2016, to shine a powerful spotlight on the millions of people who are lonely living in our communities.

The Commission was a response to Jo’s own experience - of finding herself a fish out of water at university and experiencing deep loneliness, and later of seeing the devastating effects of loneliness in her constituency of Batley and Spen. Jo recognised that loneliness was a huge problem, that it could affect anyone of us, and that its impacts were real and lasting. She wanted to bring new focus and attention to loneliness in our communities, and to encourage action.

Jo’s vision for the Commission, as in everything she did, was to break down boundaries. She wanted the Commission to be crossparty, something we’ve continued, working together as co-chairs since Jo’s murder.

And it was to be led by a wider coalition – 13 charities and businesses, handpicked for their expertise, insight and reach into some of the communities most affected by loneliness – united in their desire to drive change.

As we come to the end of this year-long project we feel proud to have honoured Jo’s memory with this important work. This year we have reached many thousands of people across the country: young and old, disabled people, carers, men in sheds, children at play, parents, refugees and people seeking asylum, employers and the many people who simply started a conversation or said they were ‘happy to chat’.

There is a long way to go in tackling loneliness, but we know that our efforts have helped people talk about their own feelings of loneliness, and think about the people who are lonely in their lives and what they could do to help them. And we have stimulated new debate about the role that government, business and community groups can play.

Jo said that she wanted to “turbo-charge” our response to loneliness – and that’s what we have done. This report shares the ideas the Commission has worked on over the past year, and it challenges national government to step forward and lead a renewed push to tackle loneliness. But we know that loneliness will not end until we all recognise the role we can play in making that happen.

Jo always looked forward. She would have said that what matters most now are the actions, big and small, that people take in response to the Commission’s work. This is a responsibility for all of us and one we look forward to sharing with you in the weeks and months ahead.

Seema Kennedy and Rachel Reeves
Co-chairs, Jo Cox Commission on Loneliness

Links

Report: Combatting Loneliness One Conversation at a Time

Sky News coverage of report launch

BBC coverage of report launch

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