A new parliamentary inquiry is examining the successes and difficulties of reaching out to isolated groups during the COVID-19 crisis. It has issued an open call for evidence, which closes on Friday 17 April. A report, to be published in April, will make recommendations to government and civic society.
The crisis has already seen many examples of civic contribution and local solidarity – but it has also brought to light the challenges of social isolation.
The All Party Parliamentary Group on Social Integration, chaired by Holly Lynch MP, has issued an open call for evidence – and is hoping to hear not only from established charities and community organisations, but also from the many informal local groups that have sprung up to help lonely and isolated neighbours in communities across the country. British Future is the secretariat to the APPG on Social Integration.
The inquiry aims to establish best practice for reaching isolated groups and overcoming some of the challenges in reaching them – not just older people but also those in sparsely populated rural areas, homeless people and some minority ethnic and migrant groups who may be vulnerable due to isolation.
It will report back in April with recommendations of best practice for community organisations but also for national and local government and other institutions, as to how they can best help community efforts to combat isolation and loneliness.
Holly Lynch MP, Chair of the APPG on Social Integration, said:
“The Coronavirus crisis has inevitably made isolation a reality for lots of people. Whilst there are good reasons for this, the need to find innovative ways of overcoming loneliness and connecting people has never been more important.
“Although social distancing will be key to mitigating the impact of the virus, hearing that your only social interaction of the week has been cancelled must be devastating news for people up and down the country.
“We have already seen wonderful examples of civic contribution and local solidarity – particularly for older people or those who are homeless or living in isolated rural areas.
“The inquiry will find out what’s worked well to combat social isolation and how people have overcome challenges. It will make recommendations to the government, councils and other institutions about what they can do to support this work. We hope it will help the ongoing response to the Coronavirus but also take some lessons for the future too.”
APPG Vice Chair Saqib Bhatti MP said:
“This will be a very practical inquiry. Lots of people, organisations and businesses are stepping up to respond. We hope this inquiry can help those efforts to combat isolation, highlighting positive examples that others can learn from. And where local efforts are hitting barriers, we hope to identify the role that national and local government can play to help.”