Isolated & Lonely
Britain, Australia, Canada, Japan and some other countries have shown the true spirit of Democracy during the time of Pandemic, as they have activated the Ministry of Loneliness in order to help people of different age groups overcome problems related to loneliness and other difficulties. These Governments want their elderly citizens to live a few more days without feeling lonely. Four years ago, the Jo Cox Commission had advised the British Government to create such a Ministry. The then British Prime Minister, Theresa May, had done the same, as she realised that even though most of the people in Britain had access to food, they hardly had companions, especially at an old age.
As per a survey, at least one in five suffers from loneliness worldwide. Maybe, some of them have been partially active for more than a month, because of COVID-19 Pandemic and perhaps, there is no one to take them out of their rooms. Others may surely have been in self confinement and they did not indulge in conversations with others over phone for long, and also did not venture out to meet others. Majority of them are depressed, as the state of their mental health lies shattered. The acute depression often causes diabetes, hypertension, obesity, and even sets Alzheimer’s disease. There is also the risk of heart attack for these people. The Jo Cox Commission, which had previously worked with voluntary organisations, found that the loneliness, a Social Disorder, was largely preventable. It requires kindness or sympathy, because mental illness is more curable by human touch than medicines.
Former Minister Jo Cox was a member of the Labour Party. She was murdered by the far-right activists in June 2016, while trying to table a Referendum on the European Union (EU). She perished after being shot and stabbed multiple times in Birstall, West Yorkshire. In September 2016, Thomas Alexander Mair, a 53-year-old gardener, was found guilty of her murder and other offences connected to the killing. The British Government inaugurated the Ministry of Loneliness in May 2017 to continue the half-finished work of Cox. Then Sports Minister Tracey Elizabeth Anne Crouch took charge of the Ministry of Civil Society and Loneliness.
The National Statistics Board of the UK measures the loneliness of people with the help of a sophisticated instrument. In its latest report, the Board has mentioned that nearly two million Britons, above the age of 75, are lonely! They have no one to share their emotions with. The Board identified three basic parameters to measure the loneliness of a person. This is called the UCLA Scale. To measure loneliness, Researchers consider three basic issues: How many times a day does a person feel unaccompanied? How many times a day does a person feel that no one wants her/him? How many times a day does a person feel that s/he is isolated from the society and family? The Researchers also consider the age, gender and socio-economic status of the person. The answers help measure loneliness of a person. Maybe, some start their day doing the same useless work. Others keep themselves busy with their hobbies. Researchers also measure the level of their overall intelligence.
The National Statistics Board had carried out the survey before the outbreak of COVID-19 Pandemic. As the lockdown has increased the number of jobless people across the globe, more people have become lonely. Hence, the pressure of the concerned ministry, too, has increased. From children to the elderly, mental health of all has been badly affected during the Pandemic. According to the survey, social corruption, directionless politics and war also make people lonely and depressed. The sudden outbreak of Pandemic helps one realise that the society could be destroyed even without a war. Although the level of socio-economic situation varies in different parts of the world, the COVID-19 Pandemic has paralysed the human mind everywhere.
Rachel Jane Reeves of the Labour Party and Seema Louise Ghiassi Kennedy, the caretaker minister of the Conservative Party, have been fighting against loneliness since 2016, with the help of 13 voluntary organisations. Many newlyweds, young men and women, and refugees are in the list of help seekers! Correspondents in certain areas of London have been asked to send letters to certain persons in order to find out the truth. If it is found that a person has been suffering from loneliness for long, then the concerned department should be informed immediately.
People, living alone, have received phone numbers of the Ministry of Loneliness. The Ministry has also appointed some people for talking to the lonely people over phone, and also for encouraging them to share their problems without any hesitation. Now, the Britons know that someone is waiting for their phone calls 24 hours a day. The Ministry has also arranged free classes to learn sewing, cooking, etc. in each district. The Social Media are also being used for this purpose. The Loneliness Awareness Week 2021 was marked from June 14-18. Those, who would not be able to get out of beds or even their homes in the morning, had been accompanied by doctors, nurses, social service providers, members of various organisations and educational institutions throughout the week. Baroness Barran, the Minister for Loneliness, has said that they would have to fight a long battle to hold the hands of lonely people, irrespective of their political affiliation, religion, race and colour.
One has to see whether Britain can overcome this Crisis of Civilisation and Modernity during the time of Pandemic. If Britain succeeds in doing so, then the world would have to learn a lot from the northwestern European nation and implement those.
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