Loneliness and connection
What we do
Our loneliness and connection work focuses on understanding how wellbeing impacts loneliness and social isolation, and what works to alleviate it.
We help to develop rigorous evidence around what really helps to create and strengthen meaningful social connections, and work with governments and communities to put these findings into action and improve people’s lives.
We also help organisations to understand how their activities can improve the overall wellbeing of the people they work with.
Why is this important?
The quality of our relationships and friendships at home, at work and in our communities matter, and positive social connections are essential for us to thrive. It’s been proven that:
- Having someone to rely on in times of trouble is the top driver of difference between high and low wellbeing countries.
- Our partner relationship is the second biggest driver of overall life satisfaction.
- Loneliness has been linked to poor physical health, mental health, and poor personal wellbeing – with potentially adverse effects on communities.
Campaign to End Loneliness
We began formally working with the Campaign to End Loneliness in January 2021 in order to bring together our contributions to action and knowledge on loneliness, civil society, community and connection. With the Centre’s support, the Campaign has expanded its focus from loneliness in old age to loneliness across the life course: reducing loneliness in children, young people, and working age adults, as well as people in later life.
Projects and resources
- Loneliness Conceptual review
- Brief guide to measuring loneliness
- Tackling loneliness review of reviews
- Who is at risk of the lowest wellbeing and loneliness?
- Building Connections Fund
- Social relations and wellbeing
- Dying Well
- Covid-19 – loneliness and mental health
- Student mental health
- Adolescent mental health and educational outcomes
- Children’s mental illness and wellbeing at age 11
Most of us experience loneliness as some point in our lives, but the Office of National Statistics report that 5% of the UK population feel chronically lonely. Of this 5%, they are most likely to share the following characteristics with those who are at risk of low wellbeing:
What works to alleviate loneliness?
In 2018 we carried out a high-quality evidence review (a review of published systematic reviews) to find out what interventions worked to alleviate loneliness. It also looked at what key ingredients were common across these activities. Across the interventions that had an effect on reducing loneliness, we found these important mechanisms:
- no one-size-fits all approach to alleviating loneliness.
- tailoring interventions based on the needs of the people they are designed for,
- supporting people to form meaningful relationships
- developing approaches that reduce stigma.
There are three different types of loneliness experienced by different populations:
- Social loneliness refers to the perceived lack of quantity as well as quality of relationships.
- Emotional loneliness describes the absence or loss of meaningful relationships that meet a deeply felt need to be recognised and ‘belong’
- Existential loneliness refers to an experience of feeling entirely separate from other people, often when confronted with traumatic experiences or mortality.
Measure your impact on loneliness
To support charities and social enterprises in understanding their impact on loneliness, our guidance helps you use the national loneliness measures in evaluations.