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International Leaders Praise Global Initiative On Loneliness And Connection

Auckland, 21 July 2021 – Loneliness NZ is proud to be a founding member of the Global Initiative on Loneliness and Connection (GILC) which was launched overnight with a global webinar. Participants were inspired by those international leaders now placing ‘profound importance’ on addressing loneliness and social isolation—recognised as a significant health issue for the 21st Century.

GILC is comprised of national organizations committed to end the pressing global issues of loneliness and social isolation. We support the dissemination of system-wide, national approaches to build social connection.

Participants heard views from a number of prominent people, including:

Dr Vivek Murthy, US Surgeon General

Baroness Barran, UK Minister for Loneliness

Dr Naoko Yamamoto, Assistant Director-General, World Health Organisation (WHO)

Dr Fiona Martin, Member of Parliament, Australia

Loneliness NZ CEO, Cathy Comber, facilitated one of the break-out groups during the webinar, where participants discussed what would help them further their goals to address loneliness.

“The WHO welcomes the launch of the Global Initiative on Loneliness and Connection,” Dr Naoko Yamamoto said. “High quality social connections are essential for all mental and physical health and our wellbeing at all ages”. She urged “This is the time to act together, internationally, regionally, nationally, locally to ensure we reduce social isolation and loneliness.”

“Loneliness predicts poor mental health and well-being and is associated with high suicidality,” Dr Fiona Martin said. “Helping bring people together and to connect people in meaningful ways is an important priority, not just for our government but for governments around the world.”

New meta-research was presented for the World Health Organisation showing increases globally in the prevalence of loneliness during COVID. The research found that the longer the duration of lockdown restrictions, the greater the increase in loneliness.

The UK’s Campaign to End Loneliness launched a new report on the UK experience of loneliness during COVID. They found one million more people in the UK are now chronically lonely, driving a big increase in demand for support services for loneliness and social isolation. Existing risk factors for loneliness pre-COVID carried over to COVID, particularly for young people. They recommended focusing services on those experiencing chronic loneliness, especially in disadvantaged communities.

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Learn more:

Listen to a sound recording of the webinar.

A video recording of the webinar will be available in due course.

Loneliness New Zealand Charitable Trust

Loneliness NZ is the national charity dedicated to conquering loneliness across the entire population and all demographic groups in New Zealand. Our vision is for New Zealanders to have improved wellbeing and life satisfaction with high meaningful social connectedness amongst ourselves, in our various communities.

We consider a wide range of factors associated with loneliness, with our goals focused around supporting those already experiencing loneliness in their lives, upskilling people to prevent themselves and others becoming lonely, and giving New Zealand a focus on conquering loneliness. We encourage the translation of research into practice, achieving the best social connectedness outcome for New Zealand.

Loneliness NZ holds the NZ seat with GILC, and its two trustees are members of GILC’s Steering Committee.

For more information about Loneliness NZ, visit our website.

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