Loneliness in London – Peter Heller, Dulwich College

London is suffering from an epidemic of chronic loneliness in the wake of the pandemic, according to a recent survey.

68 percent of people in the capital admitted feeling lonely and believe this will be a serious problem beyond Covid-19.

The Office of National Statistics report says 7.2%, or four million Britons often or always feel alone. Older generations are often seen as the most at risk, but in fact 40 percent of 18-25 year olds feel lonely, compared with 27 percent of those over 75, according to another BBC survey entitled “Loneliness Experiment”.

And the problem could be worse than the polls suggest. Jenny Manchester, communications manager at Campaign to End Loneliness, says older people may be reluctant to admit that they are lonely, even if they are, because they feel like they are stigmatized.

Many factors can lead to loneliness, including income, ethnic minority status, gender, and sexual orientation. Manchester said their organization has ties to charities that connect with marginalized communities like Stonewall that support LGBTQ + people.

Celebrities can help fight loneliness. Manchester said: “Miley Cyrus has publicly announced that she is a sufferer and that awareness has helped reduce social stigma.”

She also cited programs like the one in the Netherlands, where the young and the elderly, the two loneliest groups, are “dug”. Students visit elderly care home residents, creating lasting bonds that, in some cases, can last a lifetime. This makes use of the “U-curve” of loneliness, where young and old are most likely to identify as lonely.

Speaking to This Is Local London, Sarah Van Putten, CEO of Befriending Networks said: “For those who suffer from chronic (long-term) loneliness, the answers are less straightforward as they often have a variety of obstacles to getting to grips with their communities to connect, such as restricted mobility, aging, mental illness, dementia, care, disability, etc.

“You will need more intensive care and possibly also in your own home, for example the Befriending support that a 1: 1 visitor / volunteer can offer every week. Perhaps this will be the only visit someone has.

“Phone friendship is also a way to connect, and during the pandemic, zoom groups and digital afternoon teas were successful.

“For some people, digital assistance is not the solution and personal visits or letters need to be available.”

The government has developed a national strategy aimed at increasing funding for loneliness prevention. Former Prime Minister Theresa May writes in the A Connected Society report: “Loneliness can affect anyone, regardless of age and background – from an elderly person mourning the loss of their partner to a young person who is simply different and isolated of her own person feels friends.

“In addition, as our society evolves, other welcome advances can increase the risk of loneliness. From more flexible, but also often more remote work to online shopping, there is a risk that the warmth of human contact will disappear from our lives. ”Here the Ministry of Digital, Culture, Media and Sport announced a number of methods to combat the chronic Solitude, including the creation of a new ministerial role to be Parliamentary Secretary of State for Sport, Civil Society and Solitude. Part of this role is to develop the government’s anti-loneliness strategy and coordinate the response with the decentralized administrations and other services.

Another option, according to Manchester, is social prescribing, where people are prescribed group activities instead of medication. “Even small gestures of daily friendliness can help,” she says.

Wales First Minister Mark Drakeford has also announced that his government’s goal is to have an advisor in every GP practice to gain time for GPs and positively impact the lives of the lonely.

Su Moore, CEO of the Jo Cox Foundation, told me, “We know people of all ages experience loneliness – in fact, 16-24 year olds are the loneliest age group in the UK – but many have experienced loneliness (or long-term) Loneliness) for the first time during the COVID-19 pandemic. Going forward, it is crucial that we reduce the stigma that comes with talking about loneliness so that people are not ashamed to share their experiences and get the support they need. ”

If you are feeling lonely, contact:

Marmalade Trust (marmaladetrust.org)

Silver Line (thesilverline.org.uk)

British Red Cross (redcross.org.uk/get-help/get-help-with-loneliness)

Friendship Networks (befriending.co.uk)

Lonely not alone (lonelynotalone.org)

London Herald