7.4 million report that their wellbeing has been affected by loneliness in the past week

The Office for National Statistics has published an analysis of loneliness in Great Britain during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic during the period 3 April to 3 May 2020. The analysis reveals that:

  • 5.0% of people in Great Britain (2.6 million adults) reported that they felt lonely “often” or “always” between 3 April and 3 May 2020, about the same proportion as pre-lockdown.
  • Of those asked, 30.9% (7.4 million adults) reported their well-being had been affected through their feeling lonely in the past seven days.
  • Working-age adults living alone were more likely to report loneliness both “often or always” and over the past seven days than the average adult; this was also the case for those in “bad” or “very bad” health, in rented accommodation, or who were either single, or divorced, separated or a former or separated civil partner.
  • Both those feeling lonely “often or always” and in the past seven days had lower personal well-being scores including higher anxiety scores than the Great Britain average, but the effect was stronger among those feeling lonely “often or always”.
  • Both those feeling lonely “often or always” and in the past seven days were more likely than the average to say they were struggling to find things that help them cope during lockdown.
  • Around 7 in 10 of those feeling lonely “often or always” “agreed” or “strongly agreed” that they had people who would be there for them, compared with 9 in 10 of the Great Britain average.

Dawn Snape, Assistant Director of Sustainability and Inequalities Division, ONS, said: “The Office for National Statistics has been researching people’s well-being for nearly a decade, providing a different perspective on how our country is doing, and on social inequalities. “Lockdown” affected everyone, but responses differed. During that first month, the equivalent of 7.4 million people said their well-being was affected through feeling lonely.

“‘Lonely’ people were more likely than others to be struggling to find things to help them cope and were also less likely to feel they had support networks to fall back on.”

Matt Pearce, Head of Communications for Welsh charity Hafal, said: “The increase in loneliness caused by the lockdown is of particular concern to us as our own research shows that people in Wales with a mental illness and their carers are already much more likely to experience loneliness.

Hafal’s Promise – our pledge to provide ongoing friendship and support to our client group in a bid to tackle loneliness and isolation – has seen a 300% increase in uptake since the beginning of lockdown.

“Given that contact with mental health services has been heavily reduced during the pandemic, it’s vital that support such as Hafal’s Promise is fully resourced – and that face-to-face contact, which is so important for people with a mental illness and their carers, is re-established as soon as it is safe to do so.”