A new campaign to tackle loneliness in Greenwich has taken a big step forward.

The council has agreed to establish Greenwich Against Loneliness to combat social isolation.

The proposals were put forward by Conservative leader Cllr Matt Hartley, who said that despite good work by the council, more could be done.

Cllr Hartley said: “During the election campaign I had one very long and very sad conversation with a woman in Mottingham.

“She said that after her husband died she could go weeks without seeing or talking to a single human being.

“She told me you just wait until you are so starved of human contact that you go to the supermarket and pretend you can’t reach a shelf just so you get someone to talk to you.

“Too many people are experiencing that crushing feeling of being alone.”

It’s estimated that more than 2,500 adults in Greenwich are lonely.

According to Age UK, there are 27 high-risk neighbourhoods in Greenwich where loneliness is a particular issue – including Cllr Hartley’s ward of Coldharbour and New Eltham.

Cllr Hartley said: “There is a need for the council to use its leadership role to drive this agenda forward to give loneliness the prominence it needs as an issue in the council’s work.

“Secondly there’s a need to raise awareness for loneliness as a problem, and crucially to mobilise the support of residents in talking it.”

The campaign will make the issue a focal point for the rest of the council’s policy, and to encourage the public to take notice of the issue.

The proposals were amended by the Labour council to include a bid for the Building Connections funding pot to expand other groups.

Cabinet member for adult social care, Averil Lekau, said proposing the changed plans: “It might be helpful for the council to request a social isolation strategy be developed.

“Due consideration should be given to the complex range of needs and the importance of outreach for those not engaged.

“As leader on public health, I give my assurance that together, along with our partners, we can and will do more.”

Former leader Cllr Denise Hyland added that work should be done for all generations, not just the elderly.

Cllr Hyland said: “Work to date has focused on older people, who are at high risk of loneliness.

“The groups should identify a need to take a wider approach to address needs experienced across the population, different age groups.

“Young people, when they feel lonely, that’s when they drop out of school and are at most risk. It’s important to make the offer available to all people.”

Following the debate it was decided the initiative be adopted, with detailed plans to be put forward later this year.