Community and social groups make a massive difference when it comes to tackling loneliness and especially through the safe and welcoming spaces they provide. This is why I have been supporting social clubs like Chippenham Men’s Shed who do a fantastic job of enabling members to create their own projects for community benefit all alongside friendly company. The “Green Café” which is hosted by the Cornerstone Café in Lacock provides another monthly opportunity to meet others over a cup of tea, building a sense of community and combatting loneliness.
Whilst it is not something we may often think about, loneliness can really affect people, particularly when we grow older and sometimes lose touch with friends and family. I have written and spoken to the Minister of Sport, Civil Society and Loneliness about the risk of social isolation and the need to improve transport links in rural areas to make sure residents are able to access the community groups which make such a difference. I am therefore thrilled that the Government is investing in local bus services whilst making them more accessible for disabled passengers. Public transport is essential for our nationwide transport plan because not only is it essential for linking up our communities, it also reduces our carbon footprint so its expansion is doubly vital.
This year I have been holding several Over 55’s Information and Advice Fairs to help raise awareness for the amazing work local and national organisations are doing in our area and the active social networks which are available in our constituency. Hundreds of charities and groups and even more constituents attended to make these events a great success and a real opportunity to build friendships and get in touch with people with similar interests. Loneliness and social isolation are real issues and Wiltshire charities like Dorothy House, who I have supported for many years, are committed to tackling them and, coupled with our national efforts, I believe we can continue to make fantastic progress.