Today the Government announced a new fund for organisations tackling loneliness. While this grant is welcome, it’s unfortunately just a drop in the ocean. From the closure of community spaces to soaring mental health waiting lists, austerity has been directly fuelling the loneliness crisis for nearly a decade.
Since 2010, we’ve lost countless shared public spaces across the country, which are vital to a long-term loneliness strategy. Day centres for elderly and vulnerable adults have dropped by 40%. Mental health services are under huge strain, with over 120,000 patients on hidden waiting lists. More than 600 youth centres and clubs have shut down. Thousands of libraries, Sure Start centres and other drop in services have been forced to close as a direct result of funding cuts. The £2 million grant announced today would only be enough to reopen just four of the many children’s centres closed since 2010. It is not close to covering the devastation caused by the Government’s austerity agenda, which has ripped our communities apart for far too long.
We need a long-term strategy backed up with sustainable funding to truly address loneliness in society. For this strategy to succeed, the Government must begin by reversing austerity and investing in our local councils, health services and public spaces once again.”