WHEN The Yorkshire Post launched its award-winning campaign on the hidden epidemic of loneliness, it was presumed that the elderly – and recently widowed – were most at risk of social isolation.
Yet, as national awareness has increased after a link was proven between the lonely and their general wellbeing, it’s become clear that there are people of all ages and backgrounds who don’t have an extensive network of friends and support.
One in 20 adults in England feel lonely often or all of the time according to landmark research published by the Office of National Statistics. Though it singles out widowed older homeowners and unmarried people of middle age of being at particular risk, it also cites young people in rented accommodation and little sense of identity with the area where they live.
Such studies are important because they can continue to shape the work of the Jo Cox Loneliness Commission, set up in memory of the late Batley & Spen MP, and Tracey Crouch, the newly-appointed Loneliness Minister. Even more encouraging is the broad political consensus on this issue – Ms Crouch was visiting a number of initiatives yesterday with Ms Cox’s successor Tracy Brabin.
Not only does this show what is possible when MPs do set aside their differences, but it is the charitable sector and community groups who are best placed to help the vulnerable. However the challenge is still the same – reaching out to those who, for whatever reason, are cut adrift from the rest of society or might be too shy to seek support and friendship.