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Jon Trickett: We need to tackle loneliness to honour Jo Cox

15 December 2017......     Jo Cox's siter Kim Leadbeater with MPs Rachel Reeves and Seema Kennedy, launch the long-awaited final report of the Jo Cox Loneliness Commission at a special event in Batley. Picture Tony Johnson.
15 December 2017...... Jo Cox's siter Kim Leadbeater with MPs Rachel Reeves and Seema Kennedy, launch the long-awaited final report of the Jo Cox Loneliness Commission at a special event in Batley. Picture Tony Johnson.

Christmas is a great time to celebrate and relax with friends and family while reflecting over the past year.

But while it is happy for most, it is important to remember that it can be a sad and lonely time for many in our society.

A recent report by the Jo Cox Commission has found that nine million people in the UK are either always or often lonely.

This can affect people of all ages; the Age UK found that 3.6 million people aged 65 and over agree that the television is their main form of company.

While Action for Children found that 43 per cent of 17-25 year olds who used their service had experienced problems with loneliness, and that less than half said they felt loved.

Loneliness has now got to crisis point.

Research has shown the mental health effect of loneliness on an individual is equivalent to smoking 15 cigarettes a day and that disconnected communities could be costing the UK economy £32 billion every year.

So whether it is for moral, health or economic reasons the government needs to do more to tackle this crisis.

The Jo Cox Commission offers a way forward, together and we should all take note of its recommendations.

It is calling on the government to create a national plan to combat loneliness.

This includes the launching of an annual loneliness survey of the whole population and reforming the family test, which assesses the effect of government policies on stable families, to become a family and relationships test.

More widely, we need to work with communities, civil society, businesses, individuals and families to identify the causes of loneliness and together create a strategy to halt this growing trend.

If we act now, we can truly honour Jo Cox’s legacy.

One of Britain’s central values is that we should help each other in times of need.

Never is this truer than at Christmas. If you have a neighbour or relative on their own, reach out to them.

And if you are going through a difficult time over Christmas, then remember you are not alone and there are organisations which can help.

The Samaritans have a free helpline available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year – you can call them on 116 123.

** If you have any issues that you need help with, then get in touch me by email at jtrickett@jontrickett.org.uk or call 01977 655695.

You can also drop into my constituency office at Moorthorpe Railway Station, off Barnsley Road, Moorthorpe, from 9.30am to 4pm Monday to Friday (please ring beforehand to check Christmas opening hours).

Alternatively, you can visit www.jontrickett.org.uk to find out more about my campaigns and Parliamentary work.