Loneliness can be debilitating, to all demographics.
It is a subjective experience, which brings with it significant psychological and physiological responses, including increased risk of mortality. One way of defining it is as perception of social isolation, the experience of being lonely — though it is very different from being alone. Social psychologists speak of it as the gap between the social connections you would like to have and those you feel you experience.
Today, it has become one of the most severe public health crises affecting us. An epidemic. Even before Covid-19, five per cent of the British population — that’s 2.6 million adults — reported to feeling often or always lonely. This situation has only been worsened by the lockdowns.
Which is why we focus on loneliness this week, in our own backyard — Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole.
The BCP area had more than 3,600 elderly people suffering from loneliness — in 2014. Eight years on, especially after the pandemic, what is the situation? We take a closer look.
Affiong Bassey and Joshua Kidd interview Councillor Jane Kelly, who plays a key role in the BCP Council’s efforts to mitigate loneliness, to provide insights. In Exhausted. Anxious. Unable to relax, Kate Fry unpacks how NHS nurses are faring. See also A walk through a ward, ‘I was scared’, Demystifying loneliness, and the photoessay, Surviving loneliness, among other stories.
We also launched a new podcast series this week: The Issue, which looks at one theme, in depth, every week.