Survey reveals loneliness fears in Birmingham

British Red Cross releases new research on the extent of loneliness in the UK.

56% of adults in Birmingham who feel lonely fear something will happen to them and no one will notice, and two fifths of adults (40%) often feel alone, like they have no one to turn to. That’s according to new research released by the British Red Cross.

The Red Cross polled over 4,000 UK adults and found that more than half (55%) of people in Birmingham – feel always, often or sometimes lonely.

The findings of the research suggest a lack of meaningful social connections could be contributing to people’s feelings of loneliness and isolation as in Birmingham:

· T40% of people say they often feel alone, like they have no one to turn to

· 49% of people say their neighbours are like strangers to them

· 40% of those who do have people they feel close to or can rely on say those people live far away from them

· 20% don’t have friends they feel close to or can talk to

· 13% don’t have people in their life they can go to in a crisis

Last year the British Red Cross supported over 291,600 people in crisis across the UK giving them someone they could turn to in their hour of need. The charity is calling on everyone to show their kindness this winter, by helping the Red Cross continue supporting those most in need so they don’t feel alone.

Wayne O’Hanlon, 52, was married for 32 years and lost his wife, Elaine, very suddenly in March of this year. Wayne and Elaine met aged 17 and 15 in Birmingham, a year later they were married at their local church. They moved in together aged 19 and 17.

Wayne said: “I don’t have any social activities. My wife was my best friend. There’s an ice cream man who comes every day to where we live and lately I’ve been going to buy an ice cream even if I don’t want one, just to have a five minute chat with him.”

He says that joining a social group for bereaved people has helped cushion the emotional pain, but he is not looking forward to Christmas this year. ”This will be the first Christmas without my wife, I’m totally dreading it, the festivities, everybody being happy and jolly, I’m not looking forward to it one bit.”

The survey also found that of those in Birmingham who felt lonely:

61% said their loneliness is having a negative impact on their life, and 62% worry their loneliness will get worse
69% often feel completely alone when surrounded by people
38% of people said they have no strategies for coping with their loneliness

The British Red Cross is there every day for people, providing services across the UK for those who are alone and isolated, helping them connect with their communities.

Whether that’s providing dedicated support and companionship to vulnerable people at home; lending a wheelchair so people are able to get around following a health crisis; supporting refugees to become valued members of their community; reuniting families that have been displaced; or inviting people to join us in building kinder, more connected communities across the UK – the Red Cross is there.

The British Red Cross also co-chairs the Loneliness Action Group in partnership with the Co-op – a coalition of charities, business, public sector leaders and government who together are working to tackle loneliness in our communities and continue the work of the Jo Cox Commission. The British Red Cross and Co-op have been working in partnership to tackle loneliness since 2015.

Chris Bailey, senior service manager for independent living at the British Red Cross in Birmingham, said: “Loneliness and social isolation doesn’t discriminate. Life circumstances can change in the blink of an eye, meaning it can happen to anyone, no matter your age or background.

“We all need someone to turn to in a crisis, but the findings of our research suggest that there are many people in our communities feeling they lack meaningful, human connections. This will be concerning for all of us to hear, no matter where we live in the UK, or with whom.

“Every one of us would want someone to reach out to us if we found ourselves all alone. People who need our help may be closer than we think, and could feel much more connected if we offer them our kindness.

“The British Red Cross is there every day, helping people connect with their communities. A donation this winter could help ensure we continue this vital work supporting those most vulnerable.”

Text KINDNESS to 70141 and donate £5 to help make sure support is there for those who need it most.