The Cares Family is no longer operational – this website is for information only
We're right here campaigners standing outside parliament

Campaigns and Policy

From 2011 to 2023, The Cares Family campaigned to raise awareness about the impact of loneliness on individuals, on our society, on public health services, on our economy, and on democracy. We were always clear that this crisis required an urgent and long-term response; and we were always clear that loneliness was both an equity and and everybody issue – so solutions needed to come from individuals, communities, nonprofits and civil society, business and government. Through our campaigns and policy work, we advocated for social connection and community power to sit at the heart of policy and decision-making.

The UK's Loneliness Strategy

In 2018, we worked with partners to lobby for, and then help shape, the world's first ever government-level loneliness strategy. This strategy included money to expand projects reducing loneliness, including by building East London Cares, and the creation of a Minister for Loneliness to work across government. The strategy was launched by the former UK Prime Minister, Theresa May, at a Cares Family social club in London.

Speaking at the launch, The Cares Family Founder, Alex Smith, said:

"This is a serious strategy that’s not only going to help people feel more connected in their everyday lives but is also inspiring other governments and communities around the world to see loneliness for what it is: a heart-breaking emotion and a major public health issue. It’s welcome the government is acting – that can spur real culture change."

Prime Minister

We're proud that this government strategy became a model for governments in countries around the world to tackle loneliness. In 2021, Japan's parliament enacted into law a bill to promote measures to reduce social isolation and loneliness, including the creation of a Loneliness Minister. In 2024, loneliness was officially recognised as a health emergency in California's San Mateo County, which includes part of Silicon Valley. The county's Board of Supervisors pledged to explore measures that promote social connection in the community. Other countries, states and cities are now following this lead.

And it's why we're proud that The Cares Family's ripples of impact and inspiration extended from the UK to Australia, Germany, the United States, Japan, Korea, Tanzania, Sweden and beyond.

The Building Connection series

To continue to show what's possible, in 2023 The Cares Family published a series of reports, titled 'Building Connection', to help policymakers develop ideas to build social connection and community power.

First, we published Building Connection: The Promise of a Strategy for Community Spaces and Relationships, which explored the role government could play in supporting the development of social infrastructure by working with successful civic innovators.

Then we published Building Connection: Exploring What Works which outlined the ten techniques that have helped The Cares Family connect 30,000 older and younger people.

Finally, we launched Building Connection: A Manifesto to guide political parties in the UK on the policies they should adopt to build a sense of belonging and connection in an age of loneliness, division and dislocation.

You can read those reports via the links below:

Our manifesto

In Building Connection: A Manifesto, we set out five big and bold ideas to help policymakers from across the political spectrum tackle our crisis of social disconnection.

Following a UK general election, we hope the main political parties will help push social connection further up the legislative agenda by adopting our recommendations which were devised in partnership with other organisations including the Campaign to End Loneliness.

Our five key policy asks for the next government

  • Bring forward a refreshed loneliness and social connection strategy and invest £90m over three years in community organisations working to build social connection.
  • Appoint a dedicated Minister for Loneliness and Social Connection within the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities.
  • Create a new Centre for Social Connection to fuel the development of connecting institutions.
  • Institute a 0.5% ‘loneliness levy’ on the profits of social media companies, generating funding for these policy measures.
  • Introduce a Community Power Act - a totemic piece of legislation that would empower local people to truly shape the places they live.

At the time of publication, leaders from across the political spectrum, including those with deep experience on issues of loneliness, disconnection, dislocation and division, endorsed the ideas in the manifesto:

“The Cares Family’s manifesto provides a bold vision with imaginative ideas for achieving a more united country, including giving communities real power to decide on the priorities they need to make best use of the resources available in terms of local spaces, services and spending.

Kim Leadbeater, Labour MP for Batley and Spen

“The Cares Family do amazing work to bring together younger and older people, and their new manifesto should make us all stop and think about how we can create a truly united country.”

Tracey Crouch, Conservative MP for Chatham and Aylesford

The link between social connection and community power

At the heart of our manifesto proposals is the idea that more powerful communities are more connected communities. This is why The Cares Family co-founded and co-ran a campaign to grow community power to help build connection: We’re Right Here: The Campaign for Community Power.

We’re Right Here still runs in partnership with community leaders from across the country and other national organisations that is building a united movement for community power.

The central aim of the We’re Right Here campaign is the introduction of a Community Power Act – one of our five manifesto asks for the next government.

If you'd like to follow our campaign journey, read our campaign blogs below.