Taskforce calls for €3m annual funding to combat loneliness

The Loneliness Taskforce has called on the Government to have a specific Minister and Department in charge of combatting loneliness.

The group, who launched their 'A Connected Ireland' report today, recommends €3m in annual funding be put towards combating loneliness.

It also recommends a public campaign be carried out, an action plan for volunteering started, and Irish-specific research on loneliness is undertaken.

The Taskforce was established by Dr. Keith Swanick in collaboration with the CEO of ALONE, Seán Moynihan, to coordinate a response to the epidemic of loneliness and social isolation in Ireland.

At the launch of the report, Mr Moynihan said: ''We urge all members of Government not just to read this report, but to act on the recommendations we have made.

''The submissions to the Taskforce included hundreds of ideas for recommendations to the Government to address loneliness. The level of interest in the work of the Taskforce shows how vital this issue is to the people of Ireland.”

Dr Swanick said, "The goal of reducing unnecessary loneliness and isolation is a challenge, but it is achievable.

“As a nation, Ireland is ageing with the percentage of people over 70 growing faster than the rest of the population.

''It was very evident from the submissions that loneliness is not confined to the old and the rise in single-person households plus the increased pressures on young people are also contributing to the risk of loneliness.”

When drafting the report, the Taskforce received more than 300 submissions from the general public, Oireachtas and Northern Ireland Assembly Members, MEPs, NGOs, Local Authorities, Public Participation Networks, and Volunteer Networks across the country, both North and South.

Established in 1977, ALONE supports older people to age at home and works with those who have issues with loneliness and social isolation, lack of services, poor health, poverty, homelessness or housing.

- Digital Desk

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