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Yorkshire Times
A Voice of the North
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11:55 AM 29th December 2020
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Together Let's Combat Loneliness

Communities Secretary has thanked those who are continuing to spread festive cheer and tackling loneliness, while urging us all to look out for our neighbours.

The government has announced a £7.5 million funding package to help tackle loneliness over the winter period, supporting sectors that are well known for bringing people and communities together such as the arts, libraries, charities and radio.

With millions of people now under the new Tier 4 COVID-19 restrictions due to the spread of a new variant, Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick has thanked those who are continuing to spread festive cheer and tackling loneliness, while urging us all to look out for our neighbours.

Two schemes have been highlighted as going that extra mile:

Poole Housing Partnership which established a call service for older and vulnerable residents to enjoy regular chats with friendly volunteers.
Your Homes Newcastle was also praised for delivering homemade Christmas meals to their older residents to spread the festive cheer.

These are just two examples of vital work by housing associations to tackle the social effects of COVID-19 across England since the government launched its ‘Charter for Social Housing Residents’ last month.

These landmark reforms will improve the lives of residents by giving them a much greater voice and more power to hold landlords to account, and help them to establish strong networks to combat social isolation and loneliness.

Communities Secretary Rt Hon Robert Jenrick MP said:

"None of us have ever known a Christmas like this. While we may have had smaller and quieter Christmases than normal, for some people this Christmas will have been especially hard – and very lonely. That’s why I’m encouraging people to find other ways to reach out virtually and help combat loneliness – by picking up the phone or writing a letter, for example.

"Let’s all do what we can to connect with our older neighbours – in a Covid-secure way – so they feel less alone and know how valuable they are to their communities at this difficult time."

The charity Age UK estimates that there are approximately 1.4 million chronically lonely older people in England.

The government has been working to tackle loneliness during the pandemic. Over £24 million of the £750 million charity funding package has gone directly towards reducing loneliness, and a further £45 million to organisations supporting people with their mental health.

In June the government relaunched its long-running campaign, Let’s Talk Loneliness. If you’re lonely or looking to help others, there is lots of helpful advice and support on the Let’s Talk Loneliness website. https://letstalkloneliness.co.uk/

The government has also announced it will launch a new campaign to highlight the Charter for Social Housing Residents in February 2021. The campaign will highlight what the changes will mean for residents and how they can access support.