WE can only hope that newly appointed minister for loneliness Tracey Crouch proves effective in her new brief.

She will lead a drive against a “social epidemic” affecting an estimated nine million adults, threatening their health and even driving people to suicide each year. The move came from a report from the Jo Cox Commission on Loneliness after the Labour MP, killed by a far-Right fanatic, had campaigned on the issue.

Loneliness is rife in towns like Bolton and everywhere around the country and it is particularly hard-hitting at this time of year when bad weather may confine people to their homes more than usual.

Age UK reports that 200,000 older people have not had a conversation with a friend or relative in more than a month and charity Scope says that young disabled adults feel lonely.

Donating our time to others is the best gift we can ever make.