Young people 'central to government loneliness strategy'

By Neil Puffett

| 22 June 2018

Initiatives to tackle loneliness among young people will be central to a forthcoming strategy on the issue, the government has said.

A study by Action for Children last year found that 39 per cent of children had felt lonely in the past week. Picture: Morguefile

Plans to launch a loneliness strategy, which is being led by youth minister Tracey Crouch who is the ministerial lead for loneliness, were first announced in January amid concerns that increasing numbers of people are experiencing loneliness.

The government has now launched a four-week consultation, asking for organisations with expertise and experience in tackling loneliness to help us by providing views on how the strategy should be developed.

It said it is interested in approaches that reduce the risk of loneliness, prevent loneliness, or intervene early before loneliness becomes entrenched.

"We believe that the strategy should include both some policies that reduce the risk of loneliness across all groups in society, and some that focus on reducing the risk at specific trigger points for key groups highlighted by existing analysis: young people (aged 16 to 24); people in poor health; carers; unemployed people; and bereaved people," the consultation states.

A study published in November 2017 by Action for Children into the impact of loneliness on children, young people and families included a poll of more than 500 children, which found that more than a third (39 per cent) had felt lonely in the past week.

The charity has warned that sustained loneliness can have a life-long impact on children's mental and physical health, contributing to stress, depression, anxiety, paranoia and heart disease.

Earlier this month the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport said £1m has been allocated specifically for programmes that bring people together to tackle loneliness among young people as part of a new £11m Building Connections Fund. The fund will open to bids from next month, with grants available until the end of December 2020.

The four-week consultation on the basis for the loneliness strategy is due to run until 20 July.

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