Most of us experience loneliness as some point in our lives, but the Office of National Statistics report that 5% of the UK population feel chronically lonely. Of this 5%, they are most likely to share the following characteristics with those who are at risk of low wellbeing:
What works to alleviate loneliness?
In 2018 we carried out a high-quality evidence review (a review of published systematic reviews) to find out what interventions worked to alleviate loneliness. It also looked at what key ingredients were common across these activities. Across the interventions that had an effect on reducing loneliness, we found these important mechanisms:
- no one-size-fits all approach to alleviating loneliness.
- tailoring interventions based on the needs of the people they are designed for,
- supporting people to form meaningful relationships
- developing approaches that reduce stigma.
There are three different types of loneliness experienced by different populations:
- Social loneliness refers to the perceived lack of quantity as well as quality of relationships.
- Emotional loneliness describes the absence or loss of meaningful relationships that meet a deeply felt need to be recognised and ‘belong’
- Existential loneliness refers to an experience of feeling entirely separate from other people, often when confronted with traumatic experiences or mortality.
What does this mean for policy and practice?
Measure your impact on loneliness
To support charities and social enterprises in understanding their impact on loneliness, our guidance helps you use the national loneliness measures in evaluations.