No One Should Have No One Campaign February 2016
Thank you for contacting me recently about Age UK's 'No one should have no one' campaign.
As you are no doubt aware, John Lewis supported this campaign with their Christmas television advert. As a result, thousands of people in my constituency and millions across the country watched the story about a little girl sending a present into space to a 'man on the moon.'
I share and appreciate your concerns about the loneliness that the elderly experience. This campaign achieved a great deal in highlighting the issue of elderly people facing loneliness. Indeed, over 50,000 people have signed an online petition supporting it, demonstrating just how crucial this issue is. That is why I am proud to have run my last election on the Labour position that no one should have to fear growing old and experiencing exclusion and loneliness.
I am aware of the recent report by Age UK, 'Agenda for Later Life 2015: A great place to grow older', which finds that, sadly, loneliness and isolation can have a serious impact on physical and mental health, and can be associated with increased rates of depression, cardiovascular disease and cognitive decline. I know that Age UK believes that local and national government should tackle loneliness by putting in place a national measure and appropriate strategies, such as supporting GPs to deliver practical help, as well as investing in 'innovative solutions'. For instance, the charity wants the Government to find out where older people at risk of loneliness are; identify what works best in preventing and tackling loneliness and listening to what older people say would help them to avoid and overcome loneliness.
I believe there is a role for Government in recognising the impact of loneliness and I hope they read the 'Agenda for Later Life' report and work with Age UK and other organisations that are helping to ensure that older people feel valued and included. The Government need to recognise loneliness as a serious health problem and it should take action to help prevent loneliness for older people. Just as we have a role to play as individuals, families, and communities in combatting loneliness for older people, so too does the Government.
Thank you once again for taking the time to write to me and for sharing your views.