Today sees the launch of our new film The Loneliness Project.

“Loneliness is like grief; it’s suffocating”

There are half a million older people in the UK who can go a whole week without seeing anyone. Loneliness is cutting lives short and we’re here to change that. Our new film attempts to show how damaging isolation can be, and how easily loneliness can be solved by us all.

In The Loneliness Project, Joe experiences what life is like living in isolation. He has no phone, internet access or contact with the outside world for a week. At first, Joe seems to enjoy the peace and quiet –  but quickly realises the harsh reality of loneliness.

At the end of the experiment Joe meets his neighbour Barry. Barry is 84 years-old and has experienced loneliness since bereavement. His wife Christine died in 2015.

“Loneliness is like grief; it’s suffocating. After my beloved wife Christine suddenly died, I felt only half alive. I felt paralysed by loneliness. By talking more about it, we can break down the stigma that prevents many older people from being open about loneliness. The human need for friendship and support does not go away with age; it actually increases. Whether we are 24 or 84, we all need connections that matter.”

One of the most powerful moments in The Loneliness Project is when Barry and Joe meet and connect over their shared experiences. Joe has only had a taste of what isolation is like – but for many older people, loneliness goes on for years.

Joe is lucky; he gets to go home and see his friends and family at the end of the experiment. For millions of older people, this is not an option. Loneliness is not an experiment for them.

Why we’ve made this film

There are 1.2 million chronically lonely older people in the UK. People who don’t receive the friendship, support and connections we all need.

Nobody should be lonely in older age. We believe that loneliness is not inevitable. People of all ages need connections that matter.

Research shows that the effect of loneliness on health is similar to high blood pressure or obesity. In fact, it’s as bad for you as smoking 15 cigarettes a day. Loneliness is cutting lives short and the problem is growing.

But we can all take action. People, businesses and professionals can help us to build a kinder and more compassionate society. And that’s why we’ve made this film. To show as many people as possible the impact of loneliness and isolation – but also how easy the solution can be. And how we can all be part of that solution. Because loneliness is everyone’s business.

Together, we can end loneliness.