To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what recent progress he has made on delivering the Loneliness Strategy.
Over the last eighteen months, the government has continued to take action in line with the loneliness strategy, including through delivering a response to COVID-19 that recognises the value of social connection.
We have invested over £34 million in charities focused on reducing loneliness and a further £50 million to organisations supporting people with their mental health. This is part of the government's unprecedented £750 million package of support for the sector during the pandemic, which has benefited over 14,000 charities.
We also set up the £4 million Local Connections Fund in partnership with the National Lottery Community Fund. Through the Local Connections Fund, we have awarded over 1,300 microgrants to charities and community groups that help people to connect via the things they enjoy. For example, we’ve supported songwriting workshops in Devon, dance classes in Bedfordshire, and online chat services in Durham.
We established the Tackling Loneliness Network, bringing together over 80 organisations across the public, private and voluntary sectors to share expertise and develop innovative ways to tackle loneliness. The Tackling Loneliness Network Action Plan was published in May 2021 and sets out actions that government and Network members are taking to support social connection in response to COVID-19. A copy of this report will be placed in the Libraries of the House and is available online at: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/emerging-together-the-tackling-loneliness-network-action-plan
We have continued to share practical tips and signpost support through the ‘Let’s Talk Loneliness’ campaign. During Loneliness Awareness Week in June this year, our campaign activity reached over 21 million people, including through partnerships with TikTok, BT, Royal Mail and Electronic Arts.
The government publishes a report on its work on loneliness every year. The latest was published in January 2021 and is available online at: [https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/loneliness-annual-report-the-second-year/loneliness-annual-report-january-2021 ] The next report will be published in early 2022.