Britain appoints Tracey Crouch 'Minister for loneliness'

More than nine million people in the UK are lonely
Joe Giddens  PA

British Prime Minister Theresa May on Wednesday appointed the country's first-ever Minister in charge of tackling loneliness and combating social isolation.

The Minister for Loneliness plans to use "simple acts of companionship" to help avert loneliness that is gravely affecting an estimated half of people aged over 75 live alone - about two million people across England - with many saying they can go days, even weeks, with no social interaction at all.

She said the new ministerial role would continue Ms Cox's legacy, with the post holder working with the commission, businesses and charities to create a government strategy.

Most doctors in Britain see between one and five patients a day who have come mainly because they are lonely, according to the Campaign to End Loneliness, a network tackling the health threat isolation poses to the elderly.

A dedicated fund will be set up to fund initiatives providing solutions to loneliness and "scale-up and spread" existing work offering practical and emotional support to help lonely people reconnect with their communities.

The Office for National Statistics will help to devise a method of measuring loneliness and a fund will be set up to allow Government and charities to find innovative ways to deal with the problem across all ages, backgrounds and communities.

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Theresa May has announced that Tracey Crouch will become the minister responsible for the issue.

Crouch, Tory MP for Chatham and Aylesford, said she was determined to make significant progress in "defeating loneliness".

"Loneliness can be triggered by a life event, such as a bereavement or becoming a parent, with certain groups, such as young people and carers, particularly at risk".

"We very much welcome that Government has accepted the Commission's recommendations including the appointment of a new ministerial lead who will have the responsibility for creating a national strategy to tackle loneliness".

"Both proud and humbled to be appointed #loneliness minister", Tracey Crouch tweeted.

The government said that research showed as many as one in ten people felt lonely "always or often" and that hundreds of thousands of elderly people hadn't spoken to a friend or relative in the past month.

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