More than one in 10 people are lonely and often go more than a week without any human contact.
A poll for the Mirror finds loneliness is widespread across all generations, with young people just as likely to feel isolated as the elderly.
The ComRes survey shows one in five people will be lonely this holiday season and one in 10 will spend Christmas alone.
And more than one in 10 go more than a week without seeing or speaking to a friend, relative or neighbour.
The poll underlines how young people find it harder to make friends and get to know their neighbours than the older generation.
Just over one in 10 of 18 to 34-year-olds are in daily contact with their neighbours compared with nearly three in 10 of those aged 55 and over. Seven in 10 young adults report feeling lonely, compared with one-third of the older generation.
They are also more likely to go without company for longer periods.
More than half of young people (52%) say they find it difficult to make friends.
People surveyed admitted they have caught a bus, gone to a coffee shop or gone shopping for human contact.
Loneliness is particularly high in London, with 60% of adults admitting to feeling lonely.
The “least lonely” regions are Wales and the East Midlands, both on 46%.
Laura Alcock-Ferguson, executive director of the Campaign to End Loneliness, said: “We know it can affect people at any age. It is very positive to see younger people are able to be open about their experiences. The stigma is deeply isolating and we hope younger people can help drive a change in culture that will eradicate that stigma.
“We know older people tend to feel the stigma more. Our 2017 research into attitudes to loneliness found more than half of adults say admitting to loneliness is difficult.
“More than three-quarters of over-65s would find it hard to admit to feeling lonely because they do not want to be a burden.
“We need to remain vigilant to ensure older people aren’t overlooked. This is a swiftly growing demographic. The number of lonely over-50s is set to hit two million within seven years.
“Older people are still far more likely to experience chronic loneliness, with devastating health impacts.”
- ComRes surveyed 2,085 adults online between November 9 and 11.
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You can help make a difference today
OPINION by RACHEL REEVES, Labour MP
This revealing poll shows that loneliness is something that has an impact right across the generations.
So we need to take urgent action, locally and nationally.
In schools, we should be doing more to encourage children to realise the importance of positive relationships and to make the effort to visit their elderly relatives.
Loneliness needs to become everyone’s business. It is not just down to the Government and local authorities.
You can help make a difference today by calling in on a friend, neighbour or relative who you think might be lonely, or simply phone them for a chat.
We must all work together to try to end the hidden epidemic of loneliness and create a kinder, better connected society for everyone.
- Rachel Reeves is co-chair of the Jo Cox Commission on Loneliness
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