Yorkshire is 'loneliness hotspot,' experts say as cost of living crisis affects social connections

Yorkshire has been described as “the loneliness hotspot of England” by a leading thinktank, as it urged leaders to come together to improve the situation particularly for migrants.
Yorkshire has been described as “the loneliness hotspot of England” by a leading thinktank, as it urged leaders to come together to improve the situation particularly for migrants.Yorkshire has been described as “the loneliness hotspot of England” by a leading thinktank, as it urged leaders to come together to improve the situation particularly for migrants.
Yorkshire has been described as “the loneliness hotspot of England” by a leading thinktank, as it urged leaders to come together to improve the situation particularly for migrants.

Loneliness has risen nationally from five per cent to over seven per cent since the pandemic, but it’s even higher in Yorkshire and Humber where eight per cent of people feel lonely, according to the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR)

The IPPR said the situation is particularly striking in migrant communities, where there is a language barrier, and has been compounded by the cost-of-living crisis.

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Researchers at the think-tank spoke to 70 people in migrant communities across the region, who said they were struggling to make ends meet and travel to local community events.

The thinktank found that many people feel that they do not have a stake in how decisions are made about their communities, or don’t hear about opportunities where they do exist – and people are feeling the effects of community hubs closing, poor transport, and remoteness from opportunities to bring communities together.

Report author and senior research fellow at IPPR, Lucy Mort, said: “Social connections aren’t simply a ‘nice to have’ – they’re essential for strong, healthy and happy communities.

"Councils, local businesses and communities are doing what they can, in many parts of Yorkshire, to bring people together.

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" But as the cost of living emergency bites and council budgets are stretched further, and as already insufficient support for people in the immigration system worsens, learning from and finding innovative ways to include everyone – no matter their immigration status - in community life is more important than ever.”

Activities that bring people together, public spaces and infrastructure that works for communities, and improved access to education, training and jobs are all factors that can improve loneliness in migrant communities, the IPPR said, as they published the ‘Building the foundations for social connections in Yorkshire and the Humber’ report.

Lailuma Rehman, a 24-year-old student from Huddersfield, moved to the UK from Pakistan nine years ago.

She said: “You have to be able to speak English to be able to connect with others, so the biggest problem at the start was a barrier with language.

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"I have a friend who has been telling me she was so lonely when she came over from Afghanistan.

"Because of covid, she could not see her parents. She had anxiety and depression.”

Another woman surveyed by the IPPR spoke of cuts to her local services affecting loneliness levels across the area.

The woman, from Barnsley, said: ”There have been so many services cut. Sure Start, family centres, youth club etc… it seems that everything bit by bit is being taken away to a point where there are not many places for people to go now for all ages.”