Theresa May (pictured) has appointed a “minister for loneliness” as part of the legacy of the murdered Labour MP Jo Cox.
Tracey Crouch, the Minister for Sport and Civil Society, will fill the newly-created role of ministerial lead on loneliness to head up the Government’s work to tackle a problem that is believed to affect nine million people in the UK.
Ahead of a Downing Street reception on Tuesday to celebrate the life and legacy of Cox, May said she was keen to “shine a light” on the issue of loneliness.
The Jo Cox Loneliness Commission, set up to tackle one of the issues the late MP cared most passionately about, recommended that the Government make a minister responsible for a national strategy to combat loneliness.
May said: “For far too many people, loneliness is the sad reality of modern life.
“I want to confront this challenge for our society and for all of us to take action to address the loneliness endured by the elderly, by carers, by those who have lost loved ones – people who have no one to talk to or share their thoughts and experiences with.
“Jo Cox recognised the scale of loneliness across the country and dedicated herself to doing all she could to help those affected.
“I am pleased that Government can build on her legacy with a ministerial lead for loneliness who will work with the Commission, businesses and charities to shine a light on the issue and pull together all strands of Government to create the first ever strategy.”
Cox was murdered in 2016 in her constituency of Batley and Spen by Thomas Mair, a white supremacist. She was 41 years old and left a husband and two young children.
In December the Commission published a report calling for a national strategy to combat loneliness and recommended the Government establish a minister to be responsible.
The Commission’s co-chairs, Labour MP Rachel Reeves and Conservative MP Seema Kennedy, welcomed May’s announcement.
In a joint statement they said: “We are really pleased to see that the Government is taking the issue of loneliness very seriously with its prompt response to our report. Jo Cox said that ‘young or old, loneliness doesn’t discriminate'”.
Research by the British Red Cross and the Co-operative revealed that more than 9 million adults in the UK feel lonely.
The Government will publish a cross-Government strategy on loneliness in England later this year and has begun work on establishing a fund to encourage innovative and community-based solutions for the issue.
Tracey Crouch, the minister for loneliness, said: “I am privileged to be taking forward the remarkable work done by Jo Cox, the Foundation and the Commission.
“I am sure that with the support of volunteers, campaigners, businesses and my fellow MPs from all sides of the House, we can make significant progress in defeating loneliness.”