14 DEC 2017

Loneliness

Kent Messenger Column – 14-12-17 

Loneliness is a crushing and all too common phenomenon which impacts negatively upon the mental and physical health of our nation. There are 9 million people in the UK, that's 1 in 7, who feel lonely all or most of the time. We should be in no doubt that loneliness is the concern of every one of us.

My parliamentary colleagues Seema Kennedy and Rachel Reeves have done exemplary work in chairing the Jo Cox Loneliness Commission (www.jocoxloneliness.org). Not only are they shining a light on the enormous challenges which loneliness presents, but they are also championing the legacy of our colleague Jo Cox. Jo would have undoubtedly been a trailblazer in this area, had her time not been so tragically, brutally and unjustly cut short.

The final report of the Commission, published this week, is, of course, very timely; as loneliness is particularly keenly felt over the Christmas period. The apparent companionship and festive spirit of others can be an all too constant reminder of the feelings of solitude and isolation experienced by many.

We are fortunate, here in Maidstone and the Weald, that there are some inspiring charities such as Contact the Elderly and the Samaritans. They are but two of many who play a hugely worthwhile role in supporting our most vulnerable. They deserve our enormous thanks and respect as their work goes a long way to supporting those most in need.

However, the Jo Cox Commission reminds us that we can all play a part in addressing loneliness. It calls upon us to 'start a conversation' with neighbours, friends or people we meet and to look out for those who may be lonely and vulnerable. A smile or a cup of tea and a chat can go an awful long way to brightening someone's day.

If you or someone you know would like support then please do contact me on helen.grant.mp@parliament.uk.

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