In late January, the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) released the outcomes of its survey: 50% of UK adults feel lonely. The reasons cited; people are short of time and too shy. The report highlights youth loneliness, with 68 per cent of 18-24 year olds coming out lonelier than 41 per cent of over 55s, chiming with the results of an earlier YouGov survey.
There is something positive to take from the stats; 52% of people tried to improve their situation, by joining local groups, including (as you would expect) gardening ones. The RHS used the results from this survey to launch its ‘A Garden for Friendship’ at the Royal Chelsea Flower Show. The theme of this year’s garden will no doubt help to raise awareness of what it means to be lonely and the crucial role the outdoor environment can play in alleviating loneliness.
Amongst these headline statistics, we shouldn’t forget about people who don’t have the money, nor the good health to venture outside. The 2017-2018 Community life Survey showed that loneliness levels are higher for people living in the most deprived areas or with a limiting long-term illness or disability.
Spending days by themselves, the people we help don’t have too little time, but too much. 24% of people who are lonely are unemployed compared to an average of 13% for the whole population. We need to make sure that the experiences of hard-to-reach, vulnerable groups are not forgotten. Delving deeper into how loneliness intersects with health, income, and regional inequality will allow us all to deliver tailored interventions to people most in need.