Loneliness Measures Published
The Office for National Statistics is developing new tools to measure loneliness and has published initial analysis to measure the frequency of people’s feelings of loneliness. In 2016 to 2017, 5% of adults in England reported feeling lonely “often” or “always”. Health conditions and social connections play a significant factor in whether people are likely to be lonely: people in poor health or who have conditions they describe as “limiting” were at particular risk of feeling lonely more often.
People aged 16 to 24 years reported feeling lonely more often than those in older age groups and women reported feeling lonely more often than men. People who feel that they belong less strongly to their neighbourhood reported feeling lonely more often. Three profiles of people at particular risk from loneliness were identified:
· Widowed older homeowners living alone with long-term health conditions.
· Unmarried, middle-agers with long-term health conditions.
· Younger renters with little trust and sense of belonging to their area.
The Prime Minister recently announced the development of a strategy to alleviate loneliness in response to the report of the Jo Cox Commission on Loneliness published in December 2017. As part of this, she requested that Office for National Statistics (ONS) develops national measures of loneliness. ONS is now working with a cross-government group, charities, academics and other stakeholders to review the measurement of loneliness and publish recommendations on this later this year.
Responding to the report, Councillor Izzi Seccombe, Chairman of the Local Government Association’s Community Wellbeing Board, said: “The harm loneliness can cause, both physically and mentally, can be devastating to people of all ages - it is a serious public health concern which studies suggest can be as harmful as smoking 15 cigarettes a day. Councils across the country have a range of programmes and initiatives in place to tackle loneliness and work closely with voluntary organisations and faith groups to support vulnerable people in the community. But councils can only do so much. We all need to be on the look-out for each other, which could be as simple as a quick visit to check on a neighbour, who could be a young mum without any family nearby, or an older person living alone. This could make a major difference and help tackle loneliness, which is placing an increasing burden on health and social care.”