Loneliness and isolation in the UK

November 26, 2018

Millions of lonely adults fear something will happen to them and no one will notice, according to new research into loneliness and isolation in the UK by British Red Cross.

More than half (53%) of adults who feel lonely fear something will happen to them and no one will notice, while over a third (35%) of adults often feel alone and like they have no one to turn to, says the research.

British Red Cross polled over 4,000 UK adults and found that more than half (52%) feel always, often or sometimes lonely, with young adults (72%) and those living in urban areas (61%) more likely to feel alone.

The findings of the research suggest a lack of meaningful social connections could be contributing to people’s feelings of loneliness and isolation in the UK.

It found that:

  • Over a third (35%) of people say they often feel alone and they have no one to turn to.
  • Almost half (47%) of people say their neighbours are like strangers to them.
  • Two fifths (41%) of those who do have people they feel close to or can rely on say those people live far away.
  • Almost one fifth (19%) don’t have friends they feel close to or can talk to.
  • One in nine (11%) don’t have people in their life they can go to in a crisis.

The survey also found that, of those who felt lonely:

  • Over six in ten (62%) said their loneliness is having a negative impact on their quality of life, and 61% worry their loneliness will get worse.
  • Over two thirds (68%) often feel completely alone when surrounded by people.
  • Over a third (37%) of people said they have no strategies for coping with their loneliness.

Zoë Abrams, Executive Director of Communications and Advocacy at British Red Cross said, 'Loneliness and social isolation doesn’t discriminate. Life circumstances can change in the blink of an eye, meaning it can happen to anyone, no matter your age or background.

'We all need someone to turn to in a crisis, but the findings of our research suggest that there are many people in our communities feeling they lack meaningful, human connections. This will be concerning for all of us to hear, no matter where we live in the UK, or with whom.

'Every one of us would want someone to reach out to us if we found ourselves all alone. People who need our help may be closer than we think, and could feel much more connected if we offer them our kindness.'

The findings of the research into loneliness and isolation in the UK come from a nationally representative online survey of 4,000 UK adults, conducted by Opinium.


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