London (CNN)UK Prime Minister Theresa May has appointed a minister for loneliness in a drive to tackle social isolation, a problem endured by 9 million Britons.
Tracey Crouch will take on the role and lead a cross-party group, honoring a recommendation made in a report on the 2016 murder of Jo Cox MP by a right-wing extremist.
The Jo Cox Commission on Loneliness was created as a response to the MP's own experience of isolation. "This is an issue that Jo cared passionately about and we will honor her memory by tackling it, helping the millions of people across the UK who suffer from loneliness," Crouch said in a statement.
May was due to host a reception at Downing Street on Wednesday to pay tribute to Cox and her family. "Loneliness is the sad reality of modern life," the prime minister said.
"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."
How isolation damages health
The feeling of loneliness can affect more than a person's quality of life: Studies have shown that living alone -- or feeling lonely -- raises the likelihood of premature death.