Young people are more lonely than those in older age groups, wide-ranging Government loneliness study finds

Picture: PA
Picture: PA
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Young people are more lonely than those in older age groups, and women report feeling lonely more often than men, new Government data has shown.

Research by the Office for National Statistics showed people aged between 16 and 24 report feeling lonely more often than those in older age groups.

Across England, 5 per cent of adults reported feeling lonely 'often' or 'always', according to the ONS Community Life Survey 2016 and 2017.

The survey looked at loneliness across all age groups and a broad range of demographics, and found that women reported feeling lonely more often than men; and those who are single or windowed are at particular risk of experiencing loneliness more often. Those in poor health or with a disability were also more likely to be lonely often or always.

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Unemployed people were also "significantly more likely" to report loneliness often or always, the ONS said.

Those with caring responsibilities were found to be 37 times more likely to report loneliness than those who do not.

Among the other findings, the survey identified the three groups of people who are at particular risk of loneliness - widowed older homeowners with long-term health problems; unmarried, middle-agers with long term health issues; and younger renters with little trust and sense of belonging to their area.

The research is published just weeks after the Prime Minister announced the development of a strategy to alleviate loneliness in response to the report by the Jo Cox Commission on Loneliness.

As part of that announcement, sports minister Tracey Crouch was appointed as the country's first ever Loneliness Minister. She is in Yorkshire today to meet volunteers working to combat loneliness.

The Prime Minister also requested that ONS develops national measures of loneliness. ONS is now working with a cross-government group, charities, academics and other stakeholders to review the measurement of loneliness and publish recommendations on this later this year.

Dawn Snape, Assistant Director for the ONS's Wellbeing, Inequalities, Sustainability and Environment (WISE) Division said: "As part of our work on national wellbeing, we have spent time examining the characteristics and circumstances that are associated with people's feelings of loneliness.

"Both personal and social connections can have an important effect on our personal well-being. This is why we've looked at factors including people's trust in others in their local areas, and a feeling of belonging to their neighbourhood.

"We've also explored how circumstances and characteristics combined can increase the likelihood of loneliness.

"Today's findings can be used to develop policy and initiatives that are targeted to support those at greatest risk of loneliness."

Laura Alcock-Ferguson Executive Director of the Campaign to End Loneliness, said: “Loneliness is not simply the result of someone’s personality or character; it’s vital to acknowledge contributors to loneliness such as health and economic status. The Campaign to End Loneliness is working into all four nations throughout the UK to investigate the wider context of loneliness, and will have initial results of our work later this year.

“The data shows that loneliness can affect all ages – but that older people, particularly widows and widowers, are acutely vulnerable to loneliness. We know that triggers for loneliness often happen in quick succession in later life, and the routes out of loneliness for older people are potentially more challenging. The loneliness of older people therefore requires concerted attention and effort if we are to address it. This is one of the reasons why we focus much of our work on later life.

“The ONS data also reveals a sense of belonging to your community can have a big impact on your experience of loneliness. Clearly, the need for action to harness our sense of community is more needed than ever. On 9th May, the Campaign to End Loneliness is launching a new public movement to bring people together again, create a sense of belonging and inspire connections to tackle loneliness.”