he next few months will be “incredibly challenging”, the loneliness minister warned today — as it was revealed that new groups of people are feeling alone.
Baroness Barran said people working from home who would usually rely on their workplaces for their social lives and those without internet access are among the new types of people facing loneliness in the pandemic. It comes as the highest levels of loneliness since Covid began were recorded in the week after the clocks went back.
At the start of November, 4.2 million adults were “always or often” lonely, compared with 2.6 million before the pandemic, according to the ONS.
This was the peak in levels of acute loneliness since lockdown began in March.
Vivian Hill, the British psychological society’s lead on isolation in the pandemic, said the “descent into winter” can be a very significant factor in how people feel about loneliness, with less daylight and colder weather reducing the opportunity to get outside.
She said it is a serious problem but it is something that can be tackled and added that people should be optimistic about being able to make connections and reduce loneliness.
The ONS research was based on surveys of more than 4,000 people. It showed that around one in four people experienced some form of loneliness at the start of November.
Eight per cent of adults were in the category of “always or often” lonely, which is higher than at any point since March and above the five per cent typically reported before the pandemic.
The figures reduced after the peak in the week ending November 1. The clocks went back on October 25. The research also found that young people aged 16 to 29 were twice as likely as the over-70s to be experiencing loneliness in the pandemic.
Baroness Barran said there is funding for grassroots community projects to help people stay in touch.
But she added that simple things such as phoning someone or writing a letter can really help.
She added: “It’s those simple things that make people feel valued.”