Speaking up at Westminster for the lonely people
The British Red Cross recently put out a call for evidence as the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Loneliness was running a major independent inquiry into loneliness.
APPGs are cross-party groups made up of members of the Houses of Commons and Lords. Members meet to discuss a particular issue of concern and explore relevant issues relating to their topic. While APPGs have no formal place in the legislature, they are an effective way of bringing together parliamentarians and interested stakeholders and can play an influential role in policy.
Preventing and addressing loneliness amongst people over 50 in Leeds is one of the main aims of the Time to Shine programme, so we were really keen to contribute some of our learning from the last five years.
Similarly our local evaluation partner, the Centre for Loneliness Studies at the University of Sheffield, was keen to submit their own response, focusing more on facts, figures and their academic research.
The APPG questions were wide-ranging and covered topics as diverse as:
- Changes to transport services to benefit people who feel lonely
- Finding out what the barriers are to using public or shared spaces for people at risk of or already experiencing loneliness.
- Designing or adapting housing to promote social connections
We wanted to submit a strong response, so we asked some Time to Shine participants to share their views and called on Leeds Older People’s Forum trustees who are involved in housing work. Of course, we also spoke to Time to Shine delivery partners, who see first-hand the barriers and challenges facing older people experiencing loneliness and social isolation.
Since Time to Shine started in 2015, we’ve regularly collected stories, learning, quotes and evidence from our wonderful delivery partner projects - all 101 of them!
One Time to Shine participant noted: “the main problem with loneliness is people lose self-confidence very quickly.”
Our main learning points from Time to Shine also informed our APPG response, in particular the need for:
- Strong and equal partnerships
- Person-centred approaches
- Trusted relationships
After submitting to this call for evidence, we also expressed an interest in attending an oral evidence session in the Houses of Parliament later this year, to further explore the evidence and solutions provided in our response.
We’re really hoping for that call: we want to share our learning about preventing loneliness and social isolation as widely as possible, and create a lasting legacy from the Time to Shine programme.
Time to Shine Monitoring and Evaluation Officer