Loneliness Epidemic: Third of UK Adults Haven’t Been Hugged in Six Months, Over Half Haven’t Made a New Friend

A young woman rests her head on a man's shoulder as they wait together on a bench, circa 1940. (Photo by FPG/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)
FPG/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

The loneliness epidemic which has stalked Britain for years appears to have intensified during the period of government-mandated lockdown, research suggests, with significant portions of the UK completely missing out on normal social interactions.

Revealing the findings of their study in a report outlining the think tank’s case for the government spending more money, London-based Demos said a 32 per cent plurality of Britons reported that they found it harder to make new relationships now than even during the first pandemic lockdown in 2020. Perhaps unsurprisingly, 64 per cent of Britons were said by the group to have made no new friends in six months or more.

Other findings in the research, for which the group polled 1,000 adult Britons, are more alarming for the state of basic human interaction in the United Kingdom. Over a third — 37 per cent — said they hadn’t even hugged in over six months, and a quarter hadn’t received a hug in over a year.

Underlining the extent to which basic interactions that underwrite the normal social fabric of Western society were going unheeded, Demos claimed;

…more than one in nine (13%) have not been asked how their day was, or talked to their neighbours in the past six months or more… we found three in ten (30%) have not talked to someone about a problem for six months or more, and a fifth (19%) have not talked to someone about a problem in more than a year.

The Demos report follows another from earlier this month, again from a London centrist think tank, which found in their own research that the proportion of young adults in Britain who had no or just one “close friend” had trebled this decade to 22 per cent. At the same time, the number of people who said they had more than four close friends fell from 64 to 40 per cent.

While the implications of these reports are that increased loneliness is a serious consequence of the coronavirus lockdowns — which by all accounts it is — it remains the case that this damaging development, a symptom of family breakdown and atomised society has long been growing.

Focus on broken human relationships, where individuals have no support networks and may live functionally totally alone, has in the recent past concentrated on the elderly, the most vulnerable demographic. Breitbart London reported in 2018 that the UK government had appointed a Minister for Loneliness, with the government then citing research that showed 9 million people in the UK “always or often feel lonely”.

200,000 elderly people were said to not have had a single conversation with a friend or relative in more than a month.

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