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'Everyone can help end loneliness,' Christian campaigners say
Christian campaigners have given their backing to a new initiative aimed at ending loneliness and have encouraged everyone to do their part in tackling the issue.
A commission set up by MP Jo Cox before she was murdered said the UK needs a government-led national strategy to combat loneliness.
The final report of the Jo Cox Loneliness Commission noted that nine million adults in the UK are often or always lonely and that loneliness is as harmful to health as obesity or smoking 15 cigarettes a day.
The commission calls for a UK-wide strategy for loneliness across all ages, led by government "but built on the insight, expertise and capacity of many others including the NHS, voluntary and community sector and business".
As part of this, the report says, a lead minister should be appointed to drive action on loneliness across government and be accountable to parliament.
Graham Steven, partnerships and communications manager at Glasgow City Mission, has championed the commission's recommendations and urged people to get involved.
He told Premier: "Everybody has a responsibility to play.
"Governments can do so much. But all of us as individuals, as a church, as charities, as normal citizens… there are a lot of ways we can all play a part.
"It would be a danger for us to be complacent and see it as a job the Government has to sort out."
He added that he's noticed loneliness is a common thread behind issues such homelessness, addiction and mental health.
Steven said just having a cup to tea with someone and lending a listening ear can make a difference.
Sophie Corlett, a Christian from the charity Mind told Premier Christmas time is the perfect opportunity to take a bold step to approach someone who seems lonely.
"People in the church will know others within the community who they maybe see in the streets but never talk to, it's a real opportunity to say 'Merry Christmas' and 'are you seeing anyone at Christmas?', and maybe drop round on Christmas morning," she said.
Listen to Graham Steven speaking with Premier's Alex Williams here:
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