Loneliness minister urges people to write to those still isolating

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The minister for loneliness has urged people to write letters and cards to those still isolating as lockdown measures ease.

In a statement to mark Loneliness Awareness Week, Baroness Barran has encouraged people to make contact with friends, family, elderly neighbours or anyone else who is clinically vulnerable as the country emerges from the lockdown.

This could also include pregnant women or people older than 70 with an underlying health condition, she said.

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"The last few months have brought loneliness to the forefront of our minds," the Baroness said.

File image. Shestock/Blend ImagesFile image. Shestock/Blend Images
File image. Shestock/Blend Images

"We all have a role in being kind and looking out for each other, and as some of us begin to regain some normality we cannot forget those who may need to stay at home for longer and could be at risk of feeling lonely.

"Writing letters might be a slightly forgotten art but it's more important than ever to connect with people, and putting pen to paper is an excellent way of making sure our friends, family and neighbours know we're thinking about them."

Royal Mail's director of public affairs and policy David Gold said: "Handwritten correspondence is a very powerful way of connecting and showing someone close that you care, particularly during these difficult and sometimes isolating times.

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"Keeping the nation connected is of vital importance to us, so we're delighted to partner with the Government on this initiative."

Baroness Barran's message follows on from a Government announcement last week that single adult households - those living alone or single parents with children younger than 18 - can now form a "support bubble" with one other household, meaning they can visit and stay overnight.

The move is designed to particularly support those who live alone and are struggling with being unable to see friends and family.

Since 2014, The Yorkshire Post has been campaigning to raise awareness of loneliness, which can be as damaging to health as smoking 15 cigarettes a day.

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A year ago today, the Government launched its #Let'sTalkLoneliness campaign which is also offering advice on how to reach out to lonely people.

The campaign's name will feature on postmarks stamped on most letters deivered during Loneliness Awareness Week - which runs from June 15-19 - as a result of a Government initiative with the Post Office and Royal Mail.

The Government has also announced the nine organisations helping people at risk from feeling alone that will share a £5 million fund to reduce loneliness.

The fund is part of the Chancellor's recently announced £750 million support package for charities.

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The bodies are the English Football League Trust, the Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen And Families Association, Sense, the Alzheimer's Society, the British Red Cross, Home-Start UK, the Royal National Institute of Blind People, Mind, and the Carers Trust.

The Tackling Loneliness Network, a group of high-profile charities, businesses, organisations and public figures, will also have its inaugural meeting this week to explore initiatives to connect those at risk of loneliness and isolation, encourage individuals and organisations to take practical actions, and consider how to sustain community spirit in the coronavirus outbreak.

The group was convened by the Government in collaboration with the Connection Coalition, organised by the Jo Cox Foundation.

Editor’s note: first and foremost - and rarely have I written down these words with more sincerity - I hope this finds you well.

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