As the nation celebrates Valentine’s Day and love is all around, we are today launching a new campaign to tackle loneliness.
On the day for people who are together, we want to highlight the fact many people are actually feeling very alone right now.
Loneliness: The Hidden Epidemic is being launched by JPIMedia’s Sussex titles to ensure loneliness is universally recognised as a health and wellbeing priority, to raise awareness of the support services available in our county and to encourage our readers to volunteer for those services.
Prime Minister Theresa May launched the UK’s first loneliness strategy in October and all GPs in England will be able to refer patients suffering from loneliness to community activities by 2023.
We want to make sure the people of Sussex are given all the support they need and over the coming months will highlight the work of support charities in our county.
Gary Shipton, Editor and Editorial Director of this newspaper, said: “Our sister title in the north, The Yorkshire Post, has been running a superb campaign around loneliness for some time and it has now won Royal backing.
“When the campaign started, we did not have a national profile of the loneliness agenda but things have moved on since then. There is now much more awareness, both nationally and locally, of loneliness.
“The team at JPIMedia’s Sussex titles has decided to join the campaign to end loneliness to ensure the momentum continues and everyone in our county is able to access the support they need.”
Loneliness is one of the greatest public health challenges of our time, Theresa May said as she launched the first cross-government strategy to tackle it.
Three quarters of GPs surveyed have said they are seeing between one and five people a day suffering with loneliness, which is linked to a range of damaging health impacts, like heart disease, strokes and Alzheimer’s disease.
Around 200,000 older people have not had a conversation with a friend or relative in more than a month.
The practice known as social prescribing will allow GPs to direct patients to community workers offering tailored support to help people improve their health and wellbeing, instead of defaulting to medicine.
Tracey Crouch, Minister for Loneliness, said: “Nobody should feel alone or be left with no one to turn to. Loneliness is a serious issue that affects people of all ages and backgrounds and it is right that we tackle it head on.
“Our strategy sets out a powerful vision for addressing this generational challenge. By bringing together health services, businesses, local authorities, charities and community groups we will raise awareness of loneliness and help people build connections to lead happier and healthier lives.”