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'Churches are very much on the front line of this': Christian charity welcomes new parliamentary report on loneliness

A Christian charity has welcomed renewed calls for more action on tackling loneliness in the UK. 

A new report by a group of MPs and peers has revealed more "safe and welcoming" public spaces are needed to help people to reconnect as lockdown restrictions start to ease. 

More green spaces, benches, public toilets, and better local bus services are among the 15 recommendations issued in the report to the government to encourage those feeling lonely to start socialising again. 

Speaking to Premier, Jeremy Sharpe, National Director of Christian charity Linking Lives UK, said that although work towards loneliness had previously taken place pre-pandemic, "it's a shame it's taken something like Covid to raise it as an issue". 

At least 35 per cent of those surveyed have said they feel less connected to their community than previously and 39 per cent do not think their feelings of loneliness will disappear once meeting up is allowed again. 

For Sharpe, churches have often played a vital role in tackling loneliness and he believes the report is a great opportunity to build on the work already being done to address those feeling isolated in their communities.

"I think churches are very much on the front line of this and have been for decades. And I'm sure that will continue to be the case."

"An All Churches Trust produced a report last year asking churches to say what they felt the most key issue was going to be over the next year. I think 70 per cent of them said that loneliness and social isolation was the issue for them. It's something that's important and key at the moment, and it's a great opportunity for us all to respond in our own ways," Sharpe added. 

The group would also like to see more funding for local and grassroot community projects directly linked to tackling loneliness as well as more effort put into closing the digital divide that affects four million people across the UK. 

A government spokesperson said: "The impacts of Covid-19 are being felt across the world, but the UK government is leading the way in tackling the issue of loneliness.

"Since the beginning of the pandemic, we have invested over £31.5m in organisations supporting people who experience loneliness and a further £44m to organisations supporting people with their mental health.

"We recognise that the easing of lockdown restrictions will not mean the end of loneliness for many people, which is why this will remain a priority for the government."

Father God, 
We bring before you all those affected by loneliness as a result of the Covid pandemic. We ask that you might make those near to them aware of their situation. Please remind all of us to regularly reach out to those that we know are alone to see how they are doing. 

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