The Loneliness Taskforce was established by Dr. Keith Swanick in collaboration with the CEO of ALONE, Seán Moynihan, to coordinate a response to the epidemic of loneliness and social isolation in Ireland. Through its work, the Loneliness Taskforce is seeking to increase awareness about the issue and to produce a set of recommendations for Government, state agencies and all policy makers. Over 300 submissions have been received by the Taskforce sent from the general public, Oireachtas and Northern Ireland Assembly Members, MEPs, NGOs, Local Authorities, Public Participation Networks, and Volunteer Networks across the country, both North and South. The establishment of the Taskforce has created a much-needed national conversation on the loneliness and social isolation faced by people in Ireland.
Let me share with you something amazing that happened. In mid to late January of this year I got a phone call from a gentleman saying he was from the People of the Year Awards, he continued to explain that I had been nominated for an award and was now shortlisted. Much of what he said didn't register and he had to repeat himself a couple of times at my request, I couldn't believe it, is this really happening? I wasn't even aware of being nominated. The phone call came from Martin Grant of Rehab and People of the Year Awards, who explained I was shortlisted in the category 'Everyday Hero' for my work setting up the bereavement support website Widow.ie. He continued to explain that the nomination was by a member of our forum who, at that time, wished to remain anonymous and that I would have to be willing to go on the radio. It was a lot of information to process.
International Widows Day is an opportunity for action towards achieving full rights and recognition for widows around the world. The lack of reliable hard data remains one of the major obstacles to developing the policies and programmes to address the poverty, violence and discrimination suffered by widows in many parts of the world. There is a need for more research and statistics disaggregated by marital status, sex and age, in order to help reveal the incidence of widow abuse and illustrate the situation of widows. According to the UN, "Governments should take action to uphold their commitments to ensure the rights of widows as enshrined in international law, including the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women and the Convention on the Rights of the Child. Even when national laws exist to protect the rights of widows, weaknesses in the judicial systems of many States compromise how widows’ rights are defended in practice and should be addressed. Lack of awareness and discrimination by judicial officials can cause widows to avoid turning to the justice system to seek reparations."