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New housing developments and public transport should be ‘loneliness proofed’

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New housing developments and public transport routes should be “loneliness proofed” and more public toilets and benches introduced to help people reconnect as coronavirus restrictions ease, according to a report.

MPs and peers from the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Loneliness say the public needs more “safe and welcoming” public spaces to help them reconnect with others.

The group’s report says there are “too many barriers” preventing people from connecting, such as a lack of green spaces, public toilets, playing areas, local bus services, and ramps for people with disabilities.

The report, A Connected Recovery, is the result of the first independent parliamentary inquiry into loneliness.

It’s crucial that the Government’s commitment to tackling loneliness does not wane after this pandemic.

The APPG is supported by the Red Cross whose survey suggests that more than a third (39%) of adults do not think their feelings of loneliness will go away after the pandemic.

And 32% said they are concerned about being able to connect with people in person the way they did before the crisis.

Four in 10 respondents fear it will be difficult to reconnect with people they have been out of contact with when lockdown restrictions lift.

The survey, of 2,000 UK adults in March, also found that 30% said a lack of facilities like public toilets or local buses will stop them meeting people when restrictions lift.

The APPG said groups more likely to have experienced loneliness during the pandemic are people from black, Asian and minority ethnic backgrounds, those who live alone and are shielding, younger people and parents of young children.

It is calling for the Government to allocate long-term funding to tackle loneliness, within and beyond coronavirus recovery plans.

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