Many of us will have experienced feeling alone, even if for a limited time. For some, however, loneliness is severe and prolonged, and the number of people suffering is growing ever greater.
According to a report published before Christmas by Jo Cox’s Commission for Loneliness, it is a ‘chronic illness… causing widespread misery.’ Rachel Reeves MP, co-chair of the commission, said that ‘loneliness is no longer just a personal misfortune but has grown into a social epidemic.’ The report calls for a government-led strategy to combat the crisis that does not discriminate between young and old and urges us all to get involved.
‘Tackling loneliness is a challenge that can only be met by concerted action by everyone.’
According to the report:
• over 9 million people in the UK across all adult ages are often or always lonely
• loneliness is as harmful as smoking 15 cigarettes a day
• loneliness increases the risk of premature death by about a third
Whilst Christmas for many means time spent with family and friends, this year one million people in the UK were expected to spend Christmas alone.
The BCM Care Centre is one of the projects supported by money raised at the Sponsored Sleepout. We asked our clients there about their experience of loneliness…
‘I come to the Care Centre for help, food, nice staff and companionship. I see people I haven’t seen in a while. Otherwise I’d be alone.’ David
‘If the Care Centre didn’t exist we’d all be on our own. I come to socialise and meet new people. I’d get more depressed without it. I’d just be at home staring at four walls.’ Richard
Please pray for those who are lonely and for action by government, families, communities and individuals to bring an end to loneliness.