Living a life of lonely solitude

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Earlier this month, the Office of National Statistics published a study revealing five per cent of Britons aged 16 and above feel alone pretty much all of the time.

Then there are the millions of others who have experienced loneliness more than once and the report reveals this scourge doesn’t just affect little old ladies who spend their days sat in a threadbare armchair.

Perhaps surprisingly it is teenagers and young adults, those aged 16 to 24, who are among the groups most susceptible to feeling lonely, especially those who live in rented properties.

There are 13 factors which are consistent among those who feel lonely and notably several of these relate to how secure in their communities and neighbourhoods these people feel.

Liking where you live, knowing your neighbours – even if it is just to exchange a semi-sincere ‘good morning’ or ‘how are you?’ – along with having a sense of pride or belonging in where you live all seem pretty obvious things to me but clearly so many people are cut off from their communities. Especially younger members of society and they are feeling the consequences.

It is no surprise that some have interpreted these findings as being the clearest evidence yet that technology is standing in the way of youngsters forming real, solid friendships and relationships. And they would have a point as the quest for likes and the approval of virtual strangers on social media is obviously no substitute for a proper face-to-face conversation.

But you cannot blame gadgets and the internet alone, the problem runs deeper than that.

As a much younger man, the first place I headed to was the local pub and I didn’t look back.

Pubs are still closing at an alarming rate and meeting places such a social and youth clubs are becoming few and far between.

Prime Minister May has pledged to tackle loneliness and this report is part of that but she and her Government need to invest in rebuilding of our communities.

Loneliness might be an alien concept to you and I but it is very real to millions.