Trapped in a bubble

Loneliness research.

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About loneliness

It’s already generally understood that loneliness can be an issue for older people and that it’s bad for our physical and mental health.

But, what is less well understood is how loneliness impacts people throughout their lives.

That’s why, in 2016, Co-op and the British Red Cross carried out research to look at the triggers of loneliness and how we can respond.

What we’ve learned

Loneliness doesn’t just affect older people.

Ordinary life events can be triggers for loneliness such as; becoming a mum, getting divorced, health and mobility issues, retiring, and suffering a bereavement.

This isn’t the public perception of loneliness. When asked, most people said ‘older people’ are the most likely to experience loneliness.

Our research found:

  • 18% of people are always or often lonely and of these 73% have experienced one of the life events researched
  • only 20% of people said they were never lonely
  • 75% of people who are always or often lonely don’t know where to turn for support
  • loneliness can have serious consequences for individuals but also for communities as those experiencing loneliness may withdraw
  • 92% of people think community has a role to play in supporting people experiencing loneliness
  • people prefer face-to-face support, for some this could be more intense one-on-one services and for others this may be less formal support – for example lunch clubs and community groups

What we’re doing

Our colleagues and members have raised millions to fund new British Red Cross services to tackle loneliness and we are changing how our business works across the UK to support those who are experiencing loneliness.