“The biggest disease today is not leprosy or cancer or tuberculosis, but rather the feeling of being unwanted, uncared for and deserted by everybody”
“We take relationships for granted as humans – we’re like fish that don’t notice the water. That constant interaction is not only beneficial psychologically but directly to our physical health.”
Timothy Smith, Brigham Young University News
Loneliness can affect anyone at any time. There are no obvious symptoms, and it’s something people may not be prepared to talk about.
It can be brought on by change such as the death of a loved one, having a baby, losing a job or even starting a new job. There are many causes, and it affects people in different ways.
The Campaign to End Loneliness estimates that up to 800,000 people in England are lonely at any one time. Another study claimed that the impact of loneliness on mental, and ultimately physical health, can be as harmful as smoking 15 cigarettes a day.
The good news is that you can help. Everyone can do something to stop another person feeling lonely, which is why we’re asking you to play your part, with some ideas and suggestions below.
According to a ComRes survey carried out among 2,000 adults across Great Britain in December 2014:
- Nearly three in ten British adults (28%) say that they feel lonely at least some of the time.
- 18-24 year olds are nearly as likely (30%) to feel lonely as those over 65 (31%).
- A third (33%) of Brits (and 27% of those aged 18-24) say that they feel left behind by new ways of communicating and 85% prefer speaking to friends and family face to face.
- Two thirds (65%) of adults think they should do more to help family, friends and neighbours who are lonely.
‘Make the connection’ Pledge
- Taking time to talk to others on a more regular basis – friends, family and neighbours
- Volunteering to provide support
- Think about how you perceive loneliness. Remember, it’s not a weakness, incurable or a defect and it can affect anyone at any time. It is also temporary.
Do your bit
Some ideas for helping others to overcome loneliness:
- Set aside ten minutes every week to have a conversation with someone you do not speak to very often or not at all – from family members, to old friends and neighbours. It can make all the difference!
- Volunteer – would you consider volunteering to help others? From local befriending schemes to Age UK Suffolk, the Samaritans and others, there are plenty of opportunities for you to devote some of your time to talking to others.
- Get active – small groups, clubs and other activities not only help people’s physical health but also their mental health. If you are organising an activity, remember to advertise it widely and try to encourage as many members of your community as possible to get involved.
- Find out more about loneliness. Talk to other people about it, and about their perceptions of loneliness. There’s also plenty of research, case studies and other materials available on this page and elsewhere.
For more information, please click here.