Lonely and left behind: our new report highlights the pandemic's effect on feelings of loneliness
The British Red Cross is committed to helping people affected by loneliness. Here, three people talk about their own experiences
The past year has been a lonely one for lots of reasons. Whether the pandemic has kept you apart from loved ones for health reasons or simply due to distance, it’s likely that at times you have felt lonelier than usual.
And you’re not alone in feeling that way. Our new report Lonely and left behind has offered the most detailed study yet of the impact the coronavirus pandemic is having on people’s loneliness.
The report details the day-to-day experiences of 16 people who were shielding or isolating immediately after the first lockdown period, and includes the results of a poll of more than 2,000 people.
The poll showed that around a third (32 per cent) of people worry something will happen to them and no one will notice.
A third (32 per cent) of people told us they are alone and have no one to turn to.
Thirty-eight per cent of people whose ethnicity is Black, Asian or minority ethnic (BAME) agreed that they often feel alone and like they have no one to turn to, compared to 28 per cent of people of white ethnicity.
And 39 per cent of the adults we spoke to said they hadn’t had a meaningful conversation with someone in a fortnight.
A loneliness epidemic
As we inch closer to winter with national and local restrictions changing constantly once again, it’s clear that loneliness is an issue that warrants our full attention.
You can read our Lonely and left behind report in full here. Read on to hear from three people who are involved with the British Red Cross’s work against loneliness.
Rosie, a British Red Cross community connector in Newcastle
"The North East has been hit hard by coronavirus and our support has been vital because the coronavirus crisis has left some people feeling very vulnerable and lonely.
We have been providing a lot of telephone support to people to try and break up the isolation.
WE ARE DOING WHAT WE CAN TO HELP KEEP PEOPLE CONNECTED WITH THE PEOPLE THEY LOVE.
There is one lady we have supported who has said how impressed she has been because the phone calls have really helped her out. She said she appreciates them because they break up her week a bit and she always looks forward to the next one.
It’s going to be hard for a lot of people this winter, and Christmas will be lonely and painful for some but we are doing what we can to help keep people connected with the people they love.
Everyone will have to play their part and I’m pleased to be able to help at a time when so many people are worried about the future.”
Iain, an independent living service manager in South Wales
“The aim of the community support service is to help people reduce their feelings of loneliness and social isolation by identifying interests, activities and like-minded groups of people, and by providing practical and emotional support.
It's been a challenging and lonely time for the people we support. Our service has been busy, and we have experienced an increase in demand due to rising loneliness and isolation.
Most of our support has been over telephone while coronavirus restrictions were in place, but it was a relief to many that we were able to carry out some more regular visits when restrictions were eased in July. These visits were hugely beneficial, particularly to those lonely and isolated.”
Walter, a British Red Cross volunteer and VOICES ambassador who is from Cameroon and now lives in Leeds
“It was hugely challenging when I first came to the UK – the cultural shock, being away from your family, having to deal with the immigration system.
It can feel very lonely at times but, as time went on, I started to get myself settled, got involved with a lot of community activities and made friends. I now have a huge support network and that’s helped through coronavirus.
The pandemic is keeping us all at home and that’s difficult because we’re social beings. Families are separated, social media is where we connect now and, the more isolated people are, the more it has an impact on the activities they can do and on their mental health.
MANY CANNOT SEE THE LIGHT AT THE END OF THE TUNNEL BUT WE HAVE TO LOOK FORWARD TO THE FUTURE.
I am a busy man. I work with charities like the British Red Cross and with people with learning disabilities. We have a peer support network and I have access to social media but that’s not the case for everyone.
Many cannot see a light at the end of the tunnel but we have to look forward to the future. Things will change and we will be able to get back together again.
I was able to get through them thanks to so many people and now I want to help others get through this crisis."
If you are feeling lonely and want to reach out, please call the British Red Cross coronavirus support line on 0808 196 3651 or access our online loneliness resources here.
Loneliness in the UK
Around nine million people in the UK say they feel lonely, and that’s why we’re on a mission to help people feel connected to others. Join us as we work to tackle loneliness by considering a donation.Donate