Loneliness is going to be a serious issue beyond Covid-19, according to results of a new survey from the Campaign to End Loneliness

The majority of adults (71%) think that loneliness is going to be a serious issue beyond Covid-19, according to an omnibus survey commissioned by the Campaign to End Loneliness. The survey, found that: 

  • Poorer people were more likely to strongly agree that loneliness would be a serious issue beyond Covid-19. 
  • Women (76%) were more likely than men (65%) to agree that loneliness will be a serious issue beyond Covid.
  • Risk factors for chronic loneliness, exacerbated by Covid-19, caused more demand for services and support  from front-line organisations.
  • New report highlights that around  a million more people became chronically lonely during lockdown – resulting in 3.7 million adults reporting that they were often or always lonely by the beginning of 2021 (ONS).

These results reflected the findings of the Campaign’s new report, Loneliness beyond Covid-19 which was also published today.  The report, which is the biggest ever review of the impact of Covid-19 on UK loneliness and what we can expect in future, found that although restrictions on social contact during lockdown were universal,  people had very different experiences of loneliness.  The report found that Covid-19 exacerbated existing inequalities, meaning that groups already at risk of loneliness – such as those who were poorer, in worse health or from ethnic minorities or LGBTQ+ communities – were at greater risk during the pandemic.  We also saw that if you were already lonely before the pandemic, you were likely to become even more lonely.

The report, found that organisations responsible for addressing loneliness experienced more demand for their services because: 

  • The co-ordinated response to loneliness during the pandemic identified many people who were already lonely, but not previously known to services.  
  • The impact of Covid-19 meant that more people were likely to be at risk of chronic loneliness, perhaps because they had lost their job or been ill 
  • People who were already lonely, experienced deep isolation, and many experienced changes in their circumstances as a result of the pandemic which meant they became even more lonely.  

The Campaign is calling for the Government to:

  • Provide enough funding to maintain services and support for people experiencing chronic loneliness in the wake of the pandemic 
  • Ensure that support is particularly targeted at the most disadvantaged communities where loneliness is a particular risk. 
  • Take action and invest to ensure a ‘connected recovery’; strengthening community capacity, with funding for green spaces, high streets and meeting places as well as transport and digital connectivity.  

Robin Hewings, Programme Director of the Campaign said: 

“Covid-19 has opened everyone’s eyes to loneliness, which is why a large majority of people in our survey agreed that loneliness will be a serious issue even beyond the pandemic.  More of us have been touched by loneliness personally and it has opened up conversations about this serious issue. If we pay deliberate attention to loneliness as we try to build back better, we can support those who are already lonely and pursue a truly connected recovery.”

The report will be publicly launched at the inaugural launch of the Global Initiative on Loneliness and Connection on Tuesday 20 July when Baroness Barran, UK Minister for Loneliness and Australian MP Andrew Giles will take part in a panel discussion on loneliness, chaired by US Surgeon-General Dr Vivek Murthy.