A survey for its new report ‘Loneliness Beyond Covid’ reveals that nearly three quarters of UK adults (71%) think loneliness is going to be a serious issue beyond Covid-19. The report also highlights that around a million more people became chronically lonely during lockdown – resulting in 3.7 million adults reporting that they were often or always lonely by the beginning of 2021 (ONS).
The groups of people reporting the highest levels of loneliness are young people (aged 18-30), those living alone, people on low incomes or unemployed and people with a mental health condition.
The report says that it is important that the community infrastructure of pubs and libraries, cafes and community centres are a part of our society’s recovery from the serious issue of loneliness, due to the rapid change in our neighbourhoods following the pandemic. It highlights pubs as important for social connection and interaction, as well as acting as community hubs in many places.
‘Loneliness Beyond Covid’ also asserts how building connections is easier in neighbourhoods which offer a range of different places and spaces for different types of interaction – from opportunities for casually bumping into one another, building a sense of familiarity, to places where people can meet collectively. Pubs and cafes are among places it cites which can help build connections, along with ‘third spaces’ such as post office queues and buses.
Deborah Kemp, Pub is The Hub’s ambassador for loneliness, says: “This report again highlights how our ‘Join Inn – Last Orders for Loneliness’ campaign, www.pubisthehub.org.uk/join-inn-last-orders-for-loneliness/, is now more important than ever to help support a publican’s focus on loneliness following the other devastating pandemic of the past 18 months.”
Multi solutions to combating loneliness
CtEL’s** ‘Promising Approaches’ framework strategy highlighted in the report recognises that there’s no single solution to loneliness, with every individual needing to find something that’s meaningful to them, and which gives them the motivation and opportunity to meet with, and connect to, others. It says to enable this connection, thriving communities that offer a range of different activities and options are needed, including:
- Social activities such as community cafes, play groups or social clubs
- Exercise and sports groups
- Arts and cultural activities, from visiting the theatre together to community choirs
- Opportunities to learn new skills together
- Chances to volunteer
- Peer support groups
Another key point in the report is how people need opportunities to join in, to belong and to contribute. They need a warm welcome, encouragement to stay, and an opportunity to build relationships over time.
PiTH’s Deborah says: “Publicans are well positioned to help tackle the issue of loneliness in their local areas, helping to support and offer a range of simple activities which encourage people to ‘Join Inn’ at their pub. We encourage publicans to connect with local groups and organisations they can work with to host ‘Join Inn’ events. Not only will these activities help those experiencing feelings of loneliness, but also publicans suffering the financial and emotional impact of the past 18 months.”
She adds: “Covid-19 has reinforced the importance of pubs and good publicans in many communities, as they focus and respond to the needs of local people by diversifying to provide essential services. We have an opportunity to build on this, making sure people in local areas are connected.”
Pursuing a ‘connected recovery’
Robin Hewings, programme director of the Campaign to End Loneliness says: “Covid-19 has opened everyone’s eyes to loneliness, which is why a large majority of people in our survey agreed that loneliness will be a serious issue even beyond the pandemic.”
He adds: “More of us have been touched by loneliness personally and it has opened up conversations about this serious issue. If we pay deliberate attention to loneliness as we try to build back better, we can support those who are already lonely and pursue a truly connected recovery.”
Download the full report here: https://www.campaigntoendloneliness.org/wp-content/uploads/Loneliness-beyond-Covid-19-July-2021.pdf
Pubs “crucial role” in community wellbeing
The Government’s Hospitality Strategy, published in July by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, also recognises that pubs play a “vital role” at the heart of communities “giving a welcome space for people to come together.”
The report also acknowledges the “crucial role” that pubs have in promoting positive mental health and wellbeing, with the Government saying it would work with the sector to champion hospitality’s role in community wellbeing