Debbie Abrahams, MP for Oldham East and Saddleworth, is backing the Jo Cox Commission on Loneliness by signing their online pledge to ‘start a conversation’.
The Commission was set up by Jo Cox MP, with Seema Kennedy MP, before her death last year and it is working with government, businesses and voluntary groups on how to reduce loneliness.
Mrs Abrahams said: “I met with the Jo Cox Commission and made a pledge to tackle the issue across Oldham and Saddleworth by starting a conversation with someone.
“Loneliness is something I often see when I’m going door to door, meeting local people across Oldham and Saddleworth.
“I was proud to be part of the Great Get Together events at Oldham Sixth Form College and Uppermill last month, which was another great way to bring people together.
“My friend and colleague Jo set up the commission before she was murdered and it is continuing her legacy by raising awareness and working to reduce the stigma of being lonely.
“Many people link loneliness with older people, but that’s by no means the full picture. Jo put it perfectly herself saying, ‘young or old, loneliness doesn’t discriminate’.
“It is something many of us could easily help with. Looking in on a neighbour, visiting an elderly relative or making that call or visit we’ve been promising to a friend we haven’t seen in a long time.
“Jo knew we could all to be part of the solution by pledging to start a conversation with someone today.
“Being lonely isn’t just a feeling, it’s considered to be as bad for our health as smoking 15 cigarettes a day.”
“It’s often linked with changes in our lives, moving to a new place, having a baby, retirement or redundancy, disability or ill health, becoming a carer or the end of a relationship.”
In February the Commission’s partners, the Co-op, launched research that found loneliness cost businesses £2.5 billion a year.
A British Red Cross survey found one in five people said they always or often felt lonely while The Royal Voluntary Society said that men reported 38 as the age they had the fewest friends.
The Commission is due to carry out more research around disability, carers, refugees and children and parents to establish how loneliness affects each of these groups of people.
Mrs Abrahams added: “Loneliness can be a problem in every street and within every family. That means all of us can do something to make someone feel less lonely today.
“We can all play our part. I’ve signed the pledge to support the commission in its aim to tackle loneliness both in Oldham and Saddleworth and in my role in Parliament.”
You can pledge to start a conversation through the Jo Cox website: www.jocoxloneliness.org/pledge