May encourages ‘social prescribing’ in Loneliness Strategy

Prime Minister Theresa May has launched the first cross-Government strategy to tackle loneliness, claiming it to be ‘one of the greatest public health challenges of our time’.

Confirming all GPs in England will be able to refer patients experiencing loneliness to community activities and voluntary services by 2023, the Prime Minister said that £1.8 million was to be made available to increase the number of community spaces available.

As part of her plans, ‘social prescribing’ will hopefully reduce demand on the NHS and improve patients’ quality of life by connecting patients to a variety of activities, such as cookery classes, walking clubs and art groups.

Three quarters of GPs surveyed have said they are seeing between one and five people a day suffering with loneliness. Furthermore, nearly a fifth of all UK adults feel lonely most or all of the time. May has, therefore, introduced ‘Employer Pledge’ to tackle loneliness in the workplace.

May said: “Loneliness is a reality for too many people in our society today… it can affect anyone of any age and background. Across our communities there are people who can go for days, weeks or even a month without seeing a friend or family member.

“So Jo Cox was absolutely right to highlight the critical importance of this growing social injustice which sits alongside childhood obesity and mental wellbeing as one of the greatest public health challenges of our time. I was pleased to be able to support the Loneliness Commission set up in Jo’s name and I am determined to do everything possible to take forward its recommendations. This strategy is only the beginning of delivering a long and far reaching social change in our country - but it is a vital first step in a national mission to end loneliness in our lifetimes.”

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