We all want to be there for those in our life who are going through periods of loneliness, but new research from the Jo Cox Foundation (conducted by ICM Unlimited) shows that only a tiny minority of the British public (8%) correctly identify that young people are the most lonely in UK society.
Kicking off today on ‘Blue Monday’ (17 January) and running until 30 January, people across the UK will be starting conversations about loneliness with the Great Winter Get Together - the Jo Cox Foundation’s annual campaign to reduce the stigma associated with loneliness. In particular we’re reaching out to those who don’t fit with the stereotypical image of a lonely person, which for many is still an elderly person who lives alone.
While Brits most commonly think that over 80s are the most lonely age group, the reality is the opposite - young people aged 16-24 are, with a staggering 94% reporting ever feeling lonely in the past month, versus 51% of those in the oldest age bracket. Yet only 8% of the UK population correctly identified young people as being the loneliest, demonstrating a huge disconnect between reality and public perception.
The research shows that ethnic minority Brits are significantly more likely to ever feel lonely - with 80% having reported feeling loneliness in the past month, dropping to 65% among white Brits. There is also a significant difference between genders - with women more likely than men to ever feel lonely (71% vs. 63%). However, almost half of young men said they would feel judged by friends or family when talking about being lonely, much higher than their female peers.
Su Moore, CEO of the Jo Cox Foundation, said: “We know Winter is the loneliest time of year. This January, we want to help people to take action to remove the stigma that comes with talking about loneliness.
“What this research shows is that we all need to pause and rethink our ideas of who around us might be lonely and in need of support. Jo Cox herself experienced loneliness when she was at university and as a new mum, just like many others. But it can be harder to talk about feeling lonely during those periods when it feels we should be at our happiest and surrounded by friends.”
“Starting today on Blue Monday, for the next two weeks the Great Winter Get Together will be encouraging everyone to play a part in normalising talking about loneliness. While that might sound daunting it’s really just about reaching out to those in our lives - whether that’s to share how you’ve been feeling, or ask how they are and if they’d like to do more together. Let's show there is no shame in sharing.”
Professional basketball player, podcast host, and former Love Island star Ovie Soko is among a host of famous faces - including comedian Judi Love, model Vogue Williams, and cricketer Monty Panesar - supporting this campaign to show there is no shame in sharing. He said: “If there is anyone who knows about feeling lonely, I do, I’ve spent almost half of my life travelling the world and experiencing amazing things but the other side to that is feeling patches of loneliness.
“For this I’m so grateful to have my family and friends constantly checking on me and I know it works wonders just knowing people care. So make sure you check in with those around you, even if you think they are good, they’ll appreciate it.”
Anyone can take part in the Great Winter Get Together 2022 - by sharing their own experience, reaching out to someone they know who might be lonely, or organising an event to bring people together. To get involved, visit the Great Get Together website today for a toolkit of practical tips, and join the conversation on social media using #NoShameInSharing.