Anyone can be affected by loneliness and be isolated, and this can be for many reasons.
Life factors can play a major part, particularly for those who live alone or who face daily challenges such as mobility or disability issues, those in poor health or who have faced bereavement. Sadly, this list is endless, and the reality is that it can have a major impact on your health and mental wellbeing.
Loneliness can affect anyone at any age although some groups may be at increased risk.
It does help to remember that people who are more likely to be lonely are not definitively lonely – but they could be at risk. It is not a default setting. Conversely there may be others who do not fit the profile but who are lonely, and they are particularly difficult to identify. Whilst some geographic areas are more critical than others, there are lonely people everywhere in Norfolk, even amongst the wealthier, healthier communities.
ONS data for England (Oct 2020 to Feb 2021) shows 7.3% of adults (16+) often or always feel lonely with areas with a higher proportion of young people and areas of higher unemployment generally having higher loneliness rates.
Data for Norfolk and the Eastern region shows:
- An estimated more than 68,000 lonely people (16+) in Norfolk and East Suffolk based on 2021 ONS data.
- Great Yarmouth has the highest percentage of people (16+) reporting to be often/always lonely.
- 48% of adult social care users aged 18+ reported they do have as much social contact as they would like in Norfolk for 2019/20 period, like the Eastern Region (46.8%) and England (45.9%)16 suggesting over half do not.
- 28.8% of Pensioners live alone (2011 census); 30% East of England and 31.5% for England.
- 11.2% of people with disabilities often or always feel lonely compared to 3.1% for people who do not have a disability in the Eastern Region (similar to England as whole, 13.9% and 3.8% respectively.
So, what are we doing to help?
Social Isolation and Loneliness is a real issue for the people of Norfolk with an estimated 9,000 (7.7%) in Breckland and 7,700 (8.5%) in North Norfolk alone.
The figures are staggering, but thanks to the excellent work being done by a team of dedicated staff at Community Action Norfolk, Better Together and LILY, we have seen an improvement in both the mental and physical health and the wellbeing of clients across Norfolk.
The services can help individuals connect with people and activities in their community as well as providing a range of support to help them achieve their goals. The service can also provide support for the community itself. Helping organisations and people make the places we live, stronger, friendlier, and more resilient.
The service has proved invaluable for many clients, and as a result we can share a heart-warming story of success with you here