LONELINESS is “disproportionately” affecting people with chronic health conditions and disabilities, it has been claimed, after researchers found that three out of five people with multiple sclerosis (MS) felt lonely because of it.
The new research, by the MS Society, also found that a similar amount of people with the neurological condition said they felt isolated. More than four out of 10 (42 per cent) said they have felt both.
Labour’s MP for Leeds West, Rachel Reeves, who co-chaired the Jo Cox Commission on Loneliness, said: “Loneliness is a serious issue that pervades every section of society, but those living with chronic conditions and disabilities like MS are among those most at risk. Government, charities and the community must work in partnership - because it’s not just changes in policy, but widespread changes in attitude and communication that are desperately needed.”
The MS Society is today launching a photography exhibition, MS Connection, featuring 19 people who have the condition, which can cause a wide range of symptoms from mobility issues to vision problems.
It has been put together by Mumford and Sons bassist Ted Dwane, whose mother has MS, and photographer Louis Browne.
Mr Dwane, who, with his sister, moved closer to his parents to support their mother after her diagnosis, said: “A lot of people with MS simply don’t have that network, and can end up feeling totally left out of society.”
MS Society director of services and support, Ed Holloway, said: “Anybody can be lonely, but we know from our research that loneliness is an issue which disproportionately affects people living with MS. To think 60 per cent of people with MS are lonely is shocking and we hope the MS Connection will encourage people to get in touch with us and join the fantastic community that’s out there.”
The Yorkshire Post has been campaigning to raise awareness of the issue of loneliness since 2014.