The government has announced the launch of a campaign to tackle the stigma of loneliness.
Let’s Talk Loneliness, led by Minster for Loneliness Mims Davies, brings together charities and businesses including the British Red Cross, the Campaign to End Loneliness and Public Health England to help people talk about their feelings.
It comes as a new poll shows that not wanting to burden others is the main barrier to people talking about their feelings of loneliness.
The new YouGov research also shows that 25% of adults have reported feeling lonely on weekends and people in cities had a high incidence of reporting feeling lonely than the UK overall – 56% versus 44%.
The survey found that young people aged 18-24 are most likely to say they have felt lonely (75%). In contrast, 63% of people aged 55 and over said they never feel lonely.
However, an Age UK study found that 1.9 million older people feel ignored or invisible and 3.6 million older people in the UK live alone, of whom 2 million are aged 75 and older.
Previous research shows nearly three quarters (74%) of people said when they felt lonely, they didn’t tell anyone despite most having someone they could count on.
Mims Davies said: “Loneliness is one of the biggest health challenges our country faces. It can affect anyone at any time and its impact is in line with smoking or obesity. But we can only begin to help one another if we feel able to understand, recognise and talk about it.
“Let’s Talk Loneliness’ will encourage us all to engage with this issue, speak up without stigma, spot the signs of loneliness and help build more meaningful connections so people feel less isolated.”
The campaign, backed by the Minister of Care Caroline Dinenage, was launched to mark Loneliness Awareness Week.
Zoe Abrams, British Red Cross Executive Director, Communications and Advocacy said: “As the British Red Cross, we have been leading the way on helping reconnect people with their communities to overcome loneliness and isolation.
“Our research shows that nearly 1 in 5 people feel lonely always or often, so reducing the stigma around loneliness for people of all ages and backgrounds is an imperative.”
The government has also announced it is partnering with the Co-op Foundation to match-fund a new £1.6 million initiative that supports activity in community spaces to promote social connections.
Jim Cooke, head of the Co-op Foundation, said: “Shared spaces for people to meet and socialise are vital for tackling loneliness and helping communities work together to address local challenges.
“Our match-funding partnership with government will strengthen communities by maximising the potential of spaces where people can connect and co-operate, making an important contribution to Co-op’s wider community work.”