According to a new study by the British Red Cross, almost a fifth of adults, 9 million people in the UK don’t have friends and they feel lonely. Experiencing unwanted loneliness can lead to severe mental problems as well as affect physical health and lead to depression and extreme stress.
In a poll of 4,000 adults, 53 percent of lonely people said that they worried no one would be there to support them if something bad happened to them. One in nine believes that they don’t anyone to rely upon and are struggling to make long-lasting connections to others.
Zoë Abrams, executive director of Communications and Advocacy at British Red Cross says that “loneliness and social isolation doesn’t discriminate”.
“Life circumstances can change in the blink of an eye, meaning it can happen to anyone, no matter your age or background. We all need someone to turn to in a crisis, but the findings of our research suggest that there are many people in our communities feeling they lack meaningful human connections.”
Two-thirds of the lonely people said they felt lonely even when surrounded by other people. Social media and a hectic lifestyle often result in pure isolation of people and as a result, they feel disconnected and alone and fail to cope up with their loneliness.
According to the Campaign To End Loneliness, loneliness has been found to speed up cognitive decline in older people, with one study concluding that it can increase your risk of developing clinical dementia by 64 percent. A poll by Campaign to End Lonliness in partnership with YouGov, found that almost half – 49 percent – gave the reason that their busy lives kept them from connecting with other people.
Loneliness can also increase blood pressure, coronary heart disease, and stroke and decrease lifespan by 26 percent.
There are numerous factors dependent on person to person basis for feeling lonely but some of the major ones can be noted as lack of connected communities (many people claim that their neighbors are complete strangers to them), lack of open green spaces in cities, an increased amount of focus on social media which has made our attention span of a butterfly and many more.
But on the bright side, the poll also revealed that 82 percent of adults who believe there is a division between people also think that moments of connection, such as making small talk in public spaces or smiling at people, can break down those divisions.
Be More Us
The campaign launched a nationwide movement called “Be More Us” to inspire people to tackle loneliness, make new connections, and to be “more together”, “more open”, “more us”.
So Campaign to End Loneliness and BMB drew inspiration from children in an ad that shows what happens when six-year-olds approach solitary people in a café. It was filmed with hidden cameras and revealed beautiful conversations filled with interesting and innocent questions which people have forgotten to ask each other in recent times.