British Red Cross releases new research on the extent of loneliness in the UK

More than half (53%) of adults who feel lonely fear something will happen to them and no one will notice, while over a third (35%) of adults often feel alone, like they have no one to turn to about it. That’s according to new research released by the British Red Cross.

The Red Cross polled over 4,000 UK adults and found that more than half (52%) always feel, often or sometimes lonely, with young adults (72%) and those living in urban areas (61%) more likely to feel alone.

The findings of the research suggest a lack of meaningful social connections could be contributing to people’s feelings of loneliness and isolation as:

  • Over a third (35%) of people say they often feel alone like they have no one to turn to
  • Almost half (47%) of people say their neighbours are like strangers to them
  • Two fifths (41%) of those who do have people they feel close to or can rely on say those people live far away from them
  • Almost one fifth (19%) don’t have friends they feel close to or can talk to
  • One in nine (11%) don’t have people in their life they can go to in a crisis

Last year the British Red Cross supported over 291,600 people in crisis across the UK, giving them someone they could turn to in their hour of need. The charity is calling on everyone to show their kindness this winter, by helping the Red Cross continue supporting those most in need, so they don’t feel alone.

Andy Ross, 52, from Bristol, is living with bowel cancer and found himself feeling isolated and alone after being discharged from hospital following surgery with no one to turn to. It wasn’t until he met Ian, his British Red Cross support worker, that he was given a lifeline.

Andy said, “I was in crisis. I couldn’t speak, I couldn’t move. I had no one coming in to visit me. I was on my own. Loneliness is a dreadful place to find yourself in; it’s a killer. All I kept thinking was it’s not cancer that’s going to kill me, it’s the loneliness.

“The British Cross saved my life. Ian simply walking through the door was like someone handing me an invitation to say ‘welcome back to the human race’ – it brought normality to my life. I didn’t know who I was anymore. I couldn’t remember anything. He reintroduced me to myself. His visits invited me back into ‘me’.”

The survey also found that of those who felt lonely:

  • Over six in ten (62%) said their loneliness is having a negative impact on their quality of life, and 61% worry their loneliness will get worse
  • Over two thirds (68%) often feel completely alone when surrounded by people
  • Over a third (37%) of people said they have no strategies for coping with their loneliness

The British Red Cross is there every day for people, providing services across the UK for those who are alone and isolated, helping them connect with their communities.

Whether that’s providing dedicated support and companionship to vulnerable people at home; lending a wheelchair so people can get around following a health crisis; supporting refugees to become valued members of their community; reuniting families that have been displaced; or inviting people to join us in building kinder, more connected communities across the UK – the Red Cross is there.

The British Red Cross also co-chairs the Loneliness Action Group in partnership with the Co-op – a coalition of charities, business, public sector leaders and government who together are working to tackle loneliness in our communities and continue the work of the Jo Cox Commission. The British Red Cross and Co-op have been working in partnership to address loneliness since 2015.

Zoë Abrams, Executive Director of Communications and Advocacy at British Red Cross said: 

Loneliness and social isolation don’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. This will be concerning for all of us to hear, no matter where we live in the UK, or with whom.

“Every one of us would want someone to reach out to us if we found ourselves all alone. People who need our help may be closer than we think and could feel much more connected if we offer them our kindness.

“The British Red Cross is there every day, helping people connect with their communities. A donation this winter could help ensure we continue this vital work supporting those most vulnerable.”

Text KINDNESS to 70141 and donate £5 to help make sure support is there for those who need it most.