Leyland soldier to receive special award from Prime Minister

Phil Burton
Phil Burton
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A Leyland man is set to receive an award from the Prime Minister tomorrow for his efforts to combat loneliness, as Downing Street launches a push to tackle social isolation.

Phil Burton, a former Royal Artillery Lance Bombardier, will attend a reception to receive a Point of Light Award from the Prime Minister for his work to tackle loneliness.

He founded the Veterans’ Cafe in Leyland which brings former members of the armed forces together, to talk, share experiences and access support from charities and the NHS.

Phil said: "When I first started the venture with the Veterans’ Café, I never thought it would grow into something this big. I originally wanted to set this up for the veterans, so they had a place to meet, and talk to like-minded people with the same day to day issues.

"This has now brought the veteran community together, and is allowing veterans of all ages to get the help where needed. This would never have been possible without the help of South Ribble Council, and the veterans that support the café on a fortnightly basis.”

In addition, Theresa May will announce that the Government is accepting a series of recommendations from the Jo Cox Commission on Loneliness.

The Prime Minister will host a reception at Downing Street to celebrate Jo Cox’s legacy, and the important work of her family, Foundation and the Commission in highlighting how many people are experiencing loneliness. Research shows:

+ More than nine million people always or often feel lonely;

+ Around 200,000 older people have not had a conversation with a friend or relative in more than a month; and

+ Up to 85% of young disabled adults – 18-34 year olds – feel lonely.

Ahead of the reception, the Prime Minister paid tribute to Jo Cox, her family and to those working for the Foundation and Commission for highlighting the issue. She said: “For far too many people, loneliness is the sad reality of modern life.

“I want to confront this challenge for our society and for all of us to take action to address the loneliness endured by the elderly, by carers, by those who have lost loved ones – people who have no one to talk to or share their thoughts and experiences with.

“Jo Cox recognised the scale of loneliness across the country and dedicated herself to doing all she could to help those affected.

“So I am pleased that Government can build on her legacy with a ministerial lead for loneliness who will work with the Commission, businesses and charities to shine a light on the issue and pull together all strands of Government to create the first ever strategy.

“We should all do everything we can to see that, in Jo’s memory, we bring an end to the acceptance of loneliness for good.”