MPs and peers urge Government to tackle post-Covid loneliness

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MPs and peers demand more public toilets and improved street lighting to ensure people can reconnect with friends and family outside during Covid recovery as part of plan to combat loneliness

  • MPs and peers are calling on the Government to do more to tackle loneliness
  • They believe there are ‘too many barriers that prevent people from connecting’
  • Want more public toilets and better street lighting to help people to connect

A group of MPs and peers is calling on the Government to fund more public toilets and better street lighting to help people reconnect with friends and family during the coronavirus recovery. 

The All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Loneliness said in a new report that there are ‘too many barriers that prevent people’ from meeting up. 

The group cited a lack of green spaces, parks and gardens, public toilets, playing areas, local bus services and ramps for people with disabilities as problems that need to be remedied. 

The group warned the pandemic and repeated lockdowns will have ‘knocked’ the ‘confidence and spirit’ of some people who will need support to reconnect with others as restrictions are lifted.  

The report was published alongside a new poll by the British Red Cross which showed around two-in-five (38 per cent) of UK adults are more worried about their feelings of loneliness than they were before the pandemic. 

Meanwhile, a similar number (39 per cent) said they do not think their feelings of loneliness will go away after the crisis is over and a third (32 per cent) said they are concerned about being able to connect with people in person in the way they did prior to the pandemic. 

The All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Loneliness said in a new report that there are 'too many barriers that prevent people' from meeting up. Greenwich Park in south London is pictured in May 2020

The All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Loneliness said in a new report that there are ‘too many barriers that prevent people’ from meeting up. Greenwich Park in south London is pictured in May 2020

MPs and peers want Boris Johnson and the Government to fund more public toilets and better street lighting to ensure a 'connected recovery' from the pandemic

MPs and peers want Boris Johnson and the Government to fund more public toilets and better street lighting to ensure a ‘connected recovery’ from the pandemic

Neil O’Brien, the Tory chairman of the APPG, said:  ‘As an MP, I’ve seen that it is my loneliest and most isolated constituents who have been the least able to cope. 

‘Practically, people who lack strong support networks have struggled to access food or medicines when they’ve needed to shield or isolate. Emotionally, their confidence and spirit have been knocked.

‘Yet the pandemic has also shown us the power of connected communities. No matter where you live, neighbours and other quality connections – including those on the internet – have mattered.

‘This means more public toilets, better street lighting, ramps and quiet safe spaces, so that everyone from all ages and all backgrounds has the facilities they need in order to make valuable friendships in their area.

‘With strong progress being made on the rollout of the vaccination and the easing of restrictions in sight, there is growing hope. 

‘But the economic and social impacts of Covid-19 will be long-lasting and we will have tough choices to make. Connecting our communities will be critical to our country’s ability to recover and build back better.’

Some 30 per cent of UK adults said a lack of facilities like public toilets, local bus services or accessibility adaptations will prevent them from meeting people when restrictions lift.   

The APPG is calling for the Government to oversee a ‘connected recovery’ from the coronavirus crisis.            

It wants ‘targeted and stable’ funding to tackle loneliness after lockdown and efforts to ‘loneliness-proof’ new housing developments.

British Red Cross executive director Zoe Abrams said: ‘It’s crucial that the Government’s commitment to tackling loneliness does not wane after this pandemic.’

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