'Epidemic of loneliness' for under-35s: Feeling of solitude

‘Epidemic of loneliness’ for under-35s: Young people’s feeling of solitude was made worse by Covid pandemic, report shows

  • A fifth of under-35s say they have one or no close friends, according to research
  • Millennials are also far less likely to chat to neighbours or join in group activities
  • Researchers say they aren’t antisocial but that they lack spare time and security 

An ‘epidemic of loneliness’ among young people has been worsened by Covid, a report reveals today.

A fifth of under-35s say they have one or no close friends, three times as many as a decade ago, according to research by think-tank Onward.

Millennials, those born from the 1980s to early 1990s, are also far less likely to chat to neighbours or join in group activities than previous generations. 

The proportion of under-35s who say they have one or no close friends has tripled from 7 per cent to 21 per cent over the past decade

But researchers say this is because they lack spare time and security to put down community roots, rather than being anti-social.

The report urges the Government to create a national civic service to encourage 18 to 35-year-olds to do voluntary work, with the reward of a partial student loan write-off for doing ten days a year.

Will Tanner, Onward director and former Downing Street policy adviser, said: ‘Young people are suffering an epidemic of loneliness that, if left unattended, will erode the glue that holds our society together.

‘After decades of community decline and fifteen months of rolling lockdowns, young people have fewer friends, trust people less and are more alienated from their communities than ever before. 

‘And it is getting worse with every generation.’

A fifth of under-35s say they have one or no close friends, three times as many as a decade ago, according to research by think-tank Onward

Former health minister Lord O’Shaughnessy added: ‘This report reveals that Britain’s fraying social fabric is not just geographic in nature but generational, with each new cohort of young people less interwoven with, and supported by, wider society than the one before it.’

The proportion of under-35s who say they have one or no close friends has tripled from 7 per cent to 21 per cent over the past decade.

And only 40 per cent said they had at least four close friends in 2021, down from 64 per cent in 2011/12.

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