Life after lockdown: tackling loneliness
Our research supports the need for a renewed government commitment to tackle loneliness during and after the coronavirus pandemic.
The Covid-19 crisis has made loneliness worse, with some people more affected than others.
Our report, 'Life after lockdown: Tackling loneliness among those left behind' shows that although social distancing and lockdown measures will continue to be eased, loneliness will remain. And for those most left behind, it may continue to grow.
To truly meet the challenge ahead, policy makers and civil society must now consider recovery and refocus our efforts on supporting those most affected by this crisis.
Life after lockdown draws on findings from a collection of national-level polling, interviews and evaluations from British Red Cross services during Covid-19.
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- Before the Covid-19 crisis one in five people reported being often or always lonely. Now, 41 per cent of UK adults report feeling lonelier since lockdown.
- More than a quarter of UK adults agree that they worry something will happen to them and no one will notice.
- Thirty-one per cent of UK adults often feel alone, as though they have no one to turn to.
- A third of UK adults haven’t had a meaningful conversation in the last week.
- The loneliest people feel the least able to cope and recover from the Covid-19 crisis.
- A lack of meaningful contact, a reduction of informal and formal support, and increased anxiety have exacerbated loneliness during the crisis.
- Some communities have been at greater risk of loneliness than others – people from Black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) communities, parents with young children, young people, those living with long term physical and mental health conditions, people on lower incomes and those with limited access to digital technology and the internet.
- Covid-19 has also meant a loss in social support for refugees and people seeking asylum.
Our recommendations - an overview
- Prioritise those most vulnerable to loneliness. This should include ensuring access to ongoing emotional and practical support needed to cope and recover from the Covid-19 pandemic, as well as policy and practice change focused on removing the cultural and structural barriers to establishing and maintaining strong relationships. This should be supported by conducting further research where needed.
- Secure sustained funding for tackling loneliness. This should include ensuring the voluntary and community sector organisations committed to tackling loneliness, local authorities and NHS bodies are well equipped to reach and support those most left behind.
- Continue to roll out social prescribing and ensure it delivers for loneliness. Social prescribing link workers should continue to be embedded across our health and social care systems. To ensure social prescribing effectively tackles loneliness, healthcare professionals should routinely check in on people’s psychosocial needs, including loneliness, and link workers should support people to establish the meaningful relationships of their choosing by providing tailored support and choice.
- Work collaboratively across sectors and specialisms, and with people with lived experience of loneliness. Together, we should continue to share learning, develop new solutions and drive forward a more holistic and coordinated approach to tackling loneliness, and its underlying causes.