Loneliness on the rise amongst older people - as pubs lead fight against social isolation

Loneliness among older people is on the increase, with many over 50-year-olds feeling more lonely than a year ago, new research suggests. Credit: Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire
Loneliness among older people is on the increase, with many over 50-year-olds feeling more lonely than a year ago, new research suggests. Credit: Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire
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Loneliness among older people is on the increase, with many over 50-year-olds feeling more lonely than a year ago, new research suggests.

Many of those feeling lonely say it's because they no longer work, live alone, or have children who have left home.

A survey of 1,000 people aged over 50 found that one in 10 said they felt more lonely than a year ago.

One in four said they had less money to see people, while 3 per cent cited Brexit.

People over the age of 50 have an average of six close friends and see them once every five days, said over 50s dating app Lumen, which commissioned the study.

Most of those questioned said they would rather have friends than a bigger house, a new car, or promotion at work.

Charly Lester, co-founder of Lumen, said: "Loneliness is a silent epidemic, and a huge issue for millions of people.

"Among the over 50s, retiring from work and children leaving home can be huge factors, as can being single."

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Meanwhile, a growing number of pubs are joining a campaign to tackle loneliness and social isolation through initiatives including offering free dinners for the elderly and meeting spaces for the local community.

The Campaign for Real Ale (Camra) said dozens of pubs were running events aimed at connecting people.

Examples include the Brook Inn, in Plymouth, which hosts TLC Thursdays - Tea, Laughter and Company - offering a free cake, cup of tea and entertainment, the New Inn, in Ceredigion, which boasts a cinema club and library, and the Four Ale Taproom in Gosport, Portsmouth, which hosts community groups every week.

Camra's chairman Nik Antona said: "There's something about the colder months when it is harder to enjoy the outdoors that makes winter particularly isolating for some.

"Christmas can exacerbate this for those without local friends or family, making the festive period an uncomfortably stark reminder of what they're missing out on.

"That's why we want to highlight the role that pubs play in providing social networks for so many while connecting people to events happening in their area."

Robin Hewings of the Campaign to End Loneliness said: "There are nine million lonely people in the UK, and about four million of those are older people. They lack the companionship, friendship and support we all need.

"In our own polling, we found that pubs are the place that people feel most comfortable starting conversations in.

"Pubs are a great space for people to connect. Even just a small chat can make a big difference to someone who feels lonely."