Most of us have probably felt lonely at some point in our lives.

For some, the feeling is fleeting but for others, it can stretch into years.

It’s not a topic that is easy to talk about. You’re often dismissed and told to just get on with life. After all, curing loneliness is easy – you just need to get out more.If only it were that simple.

If only it were that simple.

A survey by Gransnet found over of half of its users who are lonely say they have never spoken about their loneliness to anyone.   They said their family and partners would be surprised, or even astonished, to hear they feel lonely.

The research was conducted by Gransnet to launch the Jo Cox Commission into Loneliness, and it echoes some of the findings in a book I read recently called The Lonely City: Adventures in the Art of Being Alone by Olivia Laing.

Olivia Laing moved to New York City in her 30s and found herself alone, so set out to discover what it means to be lonely.

Some of her observations and quotes used in the book really resonated.

“What does it feel like to be lonely? It feels like being hungry when everyone around you is readying for a feast.” 

“Loneliness feels like a shameful experience…a taboo state whose confession seems destined to cause others to turn and flee.”

“Loneliness seems to be such a painful, frightening experience that people do practically anything to avoid it.” Renowned psychotherapist Frieda Fromm-Reichmann

Loneliness is one of the reasons we started Evermore.

Science has proven that loneliness is bad for your health. It can drive up blood pressure, weaken the immune system, act as a precursor to cognitive decline and accelerate ageing. Loneliness can prove fatal!

While loneliness can affect anyone, older people are more at risk due to the realities of life. Retirement, partners and friends passing away, family not living close-by, and illness can all contribute to social isolation.

But we don’t believe loneliness is an inevitability and there are ways of tackling it. Our way is through providing intentional communities where people can interact with each other, mentally and emotionally, and create a connection.  By creating connections, we have the opportunity to share thoughts, feelings and experiences. To be heard and to be a part of something bigger than ourselves.

We hope the Commission into Loneliness looks at the role housing can play in tackling loneliness, as well as encouraging people to start a conversation about loneliness.

Talking about loneliness is key to removing the stigma but the conversation needs to extend to solutions.

Sara

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Sara McKee

Evermore Founder & Director of Market Innovation

Follow Sara on Twitter @SaraMcKeeFRSA