Published: 08:00, 17 January 2018
Tracey Crouch, MP for Chatham and Aylesford, has been appointed "Loneliness Minister" by Theresa May.
Miss Crouch, 42, who is already the Government's Minister for Sport and Civil Society, will be continuing the work started by murdered MP Jo Cox. She takes up her new job today.
The Prime Minister says she is backing a campaign set up in memory of Mrs Cox to tackle loneliness.
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A cross-government strategy to find ways to stop people feeling lonely will be published later this year.
Miss Crouch, who became an MP at the 2010 general election, will oversee it.
She was born in Ashford, educated at Folkestone School for Girls and graduated from the University of Hull with a law and politics degree.
She was a parliamentary researcher from 1996 to 1998 before working in PR for Harcourt Public Affairs from 1999 to 2000.
She returned to Westminster and held posts as chief of staff to three shadow ministers, including the shadow Home Secretary between 2003 and 2005.
The mum-of-one later worked as head of public affairs for the Aviva insurance company.
She is also a vice-chairman of the All Party Parliamentary Groups on dementia, alcohol misuse and athletics.
Miss Crouch said: "I am hugely passionate about how we tackle social isolation in our communities and I feel really proud to have been given the role by the Prime Minister, to take on the work that Jo Cox and the commission have started and provide a real strategic direction for how we tackle loneliness across all Government departments.
The first thing to say is that the Prime Minister has welcomed all the recommendations within the Jo Cox commission report.
“One of those recommendations was to appoint a lead minister to ensure we do have a proper cross Government process to tackle social isolation across communities and I feel really honoured to be that minister.
“We are going to look at putting together a strategic framework going forward and how we can tackle isolation across all departments.
“We will be looking to work with lots of different partners both charities and other organisations such as uniformed youth groups and a variety of other people including public and private businesses.
“I think it is really important that we understand what isolation means, what loneliness means and what measures we can take to try and tackle those important issues but I think we do need to make sure we do work in partnerships and that was one of the fundamental recommendations of the Jo Cox commission report.
“We need to make sure we have a holistic approach to this issue.”
Today's announcement coincides with a visit to Number 10 by Vickie Day, 22, from Sandwich.
She will be meeting the Prime Minister to talk about her work with lonely people in Thanet.
Vickie was left temporarily unable to walk two years ago after an accident and found herself feeling isolated.
She is now fully recovered and is working with the British Red Cross to try to help others feeling lonely.
She makes home visits to people in her community to encourage them to get more involved in activities.
She said: "After my accident, I found it hard to leave my house because I didn't see myself as the person I used to be.
"When I started this job I thought loneliness only affected the elderly because they are less mobile and younger people have social media.
"But I was surprised how many younger people suffer, including young mums and people who had accidents or illnesses or gone through bereavement.
"It was a big shock to me. You can be in a room full of people and still feel lonely.
"We can help them reconnect with communities. It seems such an easy thing to do to talk to people but it can also be difficult and a very scary process."
More by this authorJohn Nurden