Jo Cox Loneliness Commission

Emma Hoddinott
For attention of:
3rd January 2018
Last updated:
3rd January 2018
3rd March 2024
Other formats:

Set up before her death, the Jo Cox Loneliness Commission has carried on Jo’s work over the last year to explore the issue of loneliness which affects many millions of people.

It is a cross-party commission chaired by Seema Kennedy MP and Rachel Reeves MP, that has sought to start a conversation about how we can ensure that our future is one of connection, kindness and community, not isolation, separation and loneliness. Though the commission has focused on national government in its recommendations and call to action, there are recommendations for local government.

What is Loneliness?

The commission defines loneliness as a subjective, unwelcome feeling of lack or loss of companionship, which happens when we have a mismatch between the quantity and quality of social relationships that we have, and those that we want. The commission found chronic loneliness linked to triggers such as moving home, changing schools or job, developing a health condition, becoming a parent etc. The health impact of loneliness is equated to smoking 15 cigarettes a day.

What can local government do?

The commission sets out a number of ways that local government can tackle loneliness through the services they already provide:

  • Use planning powers to improve public and private space. Widening hallways in apartment blocks, designing in children’s play areas, ensuring adequate public benches and toilets and well designed parks and pavements.
  • Waiving fees and minimising the bureaucracy required to close roads for street parties and play streets can help people meet their neighbours
  • Relax rules as a landlord on allowing pets.
  • Councils could support the development of shared living arrangements, such as the ‘small household’ model piloted by Evermore in Manchester and various intergenerational homeshare schemes.
  • Try schemes such Fair House Care and Fair BnB that give young people a place to stay whilst addressing older people’s isolation.
  • Encourage those adults in receipt of direct payments for social care to spend them collectively, such as the My Life My Choices Co-operative in Monmouthshire.

Loneliness and the Co-operative Movement

The Co-op Group was a partner organisation in the commission and have partnered with the Red Cross to raise awareness of loneliness. Their actions have included:

  • Setting up the Connecting Communities Project, looking to recruit hundreds of volunteers from across the UK to come together and help others in their local area.
  • Co-op’s Funeralcare business has almost 50 bereavement groups across the UK. The groups provide support and a place to meet with other people for those who are experiencing loneliness as a result of bereavement.
  • Co-operative and community solutions by their very nature bring people to work together and can help tackle loneliness through the approach they take.

Case studies

The Commission report includes the following case studies from local councils :

From strategy to action – Norfolk ‘In Good Company’
Using data to target action – ‘The Great Wirral Door Knock’
Action Points
For more information

For more information about the Party's work on loneliness, or for support in with implementing these steps in your area, contact our Local Government Officer

Emma Hoddinott