WHEN The Yorkshire Post launched its award-winning loneliness campaign nearly five years ago, the assumption was that it was the elderly – and people living in rural areas – who were most prone to social isolation.
Yet, as the country has become more aware about the mental and physical side-effects of loneliness, it has become abundantly clear that over nine million people – almost a fifth of the population – are classed as being lonely.
Significantly tech-savvy younger people living in busy urban areas are just as likely to suffer from loneliness than senior citizens in remote countryside communities with little or no broadband.
However the problem, according to the British Red Cross, is that two-thirds of people are not prepared to admit to others that they suffer from loneliness. This is presumably because it will be seen as an act of weakness.
It is not. It is a strength – and this newspaper is proud to have played its part in encouraging social groups and networks to reach out to the more isolated members of society who do not feel part of their local community.
As the British Red Cross says, volunteering can have a transformative effect – whether it be the personal satisfaction derived from helping others to the self-confidence gained from meeting other people and forming friendships.
By trying to reach out to the lonely, and offering a sense of purpose, the charity, and other agencies, is not only helping to tackle social isolation, but making it possible for individual groups to make an even greater difference at a time when public sector finances remain so constrained.