I know from the two roundtable sessions I have held in Liverpool on loneliness that it is an issue for many people all year around, but the festive period can be particularly difficult for some people.
It takes some people by surprise to know that loneliness is a particular challenge for young people.
What was heartening to hear at the events where we discussed loneliness was the strength of feeling and desire to support people from so many agencies like the NHS, police, housing associations and community organisations.
Unfortunately, not all of these bodies are available over the Christmas and New Year period and those that are will be hard-pressed to meet demand. That is why it is so important that organisations like Samaritans are available ever hour of every day throughout the year.
I have pledged to work with the Samaritans to prevent youth loneliness in 2019.
Loneliness amongst young people is at worrying levels and can lead to people self-harming and even suicide. It’s vital that services are there when people need them, but too often gaps in provision see people’s call for help go answered.
Last year nearly 1,600 young people in the UK took their own lives.
Samaritans is calling on the government to make a number of policy commitments, including setting out ambitious national targets to improve young people’s wellbeing, and setting up national awareness campaigns to tackle the stigma associated with loneliness: letting young people know that it’s okay to seek help.
These are all reasonable requests that the government should respond to.
If you have concerns about someone sleeping rough in Liverpool over Christmas or into the New Year, please contact the Always Room Inside helpline number on 0300 123 2041.
You may also find these numbers useful:
Liverpool City Council: 0151 233 3000
Careline Children’s Services: 0151 233 3700
Careline Adults Services: 0151 233 3800