The loneliness problem, and what we can do about it...
In 2018, we shared the sad findings about exactly how lonely UK adults had become – with more than half admitting they hadn’t made a new friend in a “long time”.
A year on and this sad story hasn’t had a happy ending yet. In fact, the loneliness problem just seems to be getting worse. Research conducted by the British Red Cross at the end of last year revealed that nine million UK citizens say they often feel lonely, and are afraid that no one would notice if something bad happened to them.
The problem is so huge that the UK Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport has set up a whopping £11 million fund “to better connect people across the country”, with their loneliness strategy to tackle the problem.
It’s a truly heartbreaking situation – so why are so many of us falling victim to it?
Weirdly, big cities can often be the loneliest places of all – despite having larger populations. Long office hours, silent commutes and house sharing with other busy, absent people can all be big factors that sometimes mean you won’t have any meaningful conversations in a day. I’m fortunate to share my home with my partner, but even as two very close individuals sharing a roof (and a bed!) we sometimes find it hard to see each other. Conflicting work hours and different social schedules often mean I’m cooking for two but eating alone, and if we didn’t have series link and a backlog of shows in our Sky planner we’d struggle to ever sit down and watch our favourites together…
If two people in a relationship struggle to cross paths in their home, I can only imagine how lonely flatsharing could be – even in a big house with a larger group of flatmates. Unless you’re setting time aside to sit down together and eat a meal or putting regular pub trips in the diary, it’s all too easy to end up more like passing ships than people who live together. And no, your interaction shouldn’t only be when the toilet roll’s run out or someone’s behind on bills.
It shouldn’t be this way. Living with people gives you the unique opportunity to share your lives with each other. We all know that a home is really defined by the experiences you have within its four walls. These experiences, often shared with others, can create the best memories you’ll have in your life.
Sharing a home gives you the chance to create lasting friendships, grow within yourself as you get to know new characters, and have lots of fun. We get it: it can be hard to make time for each other. But it’s more than worth it when you do.
I truly believe that solving big problems requires daily effort on a smaller scale. So as we see loneliness rising in society, why don’t we all start fixing it in our homes? Try this: next time you come home from a long day, postpone that cuppa in bed for 15 minutes and try knocking on your flatmate’s door instead. You might find they’ve had a bad day too and have been waiting for someone to talk to about it, and a short chat could leave you both feeling happier than that depressing solo bowl of pasta and Netflix in your bedroom would.
Living with the right people beats living alone any day – it’s just down to us to make the most of flatsharing’s potential. We want to help wipe out loneliness, for good. Are you with us?