Newcastle MP makes Jo Cox loneliness pledge

Newcastle North MP, Catherine McKinnell, has given her support to the work of the Jo Cox Commission on Loneliness – pledging to do what she can to tackle this problem across her constituency.

The Commission was set up by Jo Cox, alongside Seema Kennedy MP and 13 different charities and organisations, before Jo was murdered just over a year ago. It is now continuing Jo’s legacy by raising awareness about loneliness and working to try and reduce the stigma associated with it, and is led by Rachel Reeves MP and Seema Kennedy MP.

Catherine McKinnell recently met with the Jo Cox Commission on Loneliness in Parliament, to hear more about their work since being established and future plans.

Commission partners include Action for Children, Age UK, Alzheimer’s Society, The British Red Cross, The Campaign to End Loneliness, Carers UK, The Co-op, Eden Project Communities, Independent Age, Refugee Action, Royal Voluntary Service, Sense and The Silver Line. They are holding ‘spotlights’ throughout the year focussing on different aspects of loneliness and how it affects different people and society.

In February, the Co-op launched research that found loneliness cost businesses £2.5 billion a year. During the age spotlight, Gransnet revealed that over half of their users who were lonely had never talked about it. Last month, the Royal Voluntary Society highlighted that men reported 38 as the age they had the fewest friends. And a British Red Cross survey has found one in five people said they always or often felt lonely. Spotlights on disability, carers, refugees and children and parents are to follow.

Catherine said:

‘I know that far too many people across Newcastle are lonely, and this is desperately sad for those people but also for our local communities.

‘We also know that loneliness can have a profound effect on people’s mental and physical wellbeing, as it’s thought it could be as bad for our health as smoking 15 cigarettes a day.

‘Many people assume that loneliness is a problem that mainly affects older people, but that’s by no means the full picture. Loneliness can be linked with all sorts of different life changes, such as moving to a different area, having a baby, retirement, redundancy, disability or ill health or taking on caring responsibilities.

‘I’ve signed a pledge to support the Commission’s work in tackling loneliness, and I’d urge my constituents to do what they can too. That might mean starting a conversation with a neighbour who’s on their own, or picking up the phone to a friend or relative you haven’t spoken to in ages. Small acts of kindness can make a big difference’.