As the UK fractures, one Twitter thread should be essential reading

Two hands touching combating loneliness
Steve Topple

It’s the day after Brexit, and the UK seems as divided as ever. But a thread on Twitter not only highlights a growing problem in society, it could also serve as the antidote to our fractured country.

Loneliness

Alex Tiffin is a disabled writer. He runs the Universal Credit Sufferer website. Just after the UK ‘officially’ left the EU on Friday 31 January, Tiffin posted a long thread on Twitter. It was about loneliness:

 

He then detailed some facts and figures about this:

Loneliness seems to hit older people harder:

The Campaign to End Loneliness also says that:

Lonely people are more likely to suffer from dementia, heart disease and depression… Loneliness is likely to increase your risk of death by 29%

But it’s not just older people. Parents also feel lonely at times:

His last point about disabled people is an important one. Figures show that 13.3% of disabled people said they were lonely “often or always”. This is compared to just 3.4% of non-disabled people. Loneliness was worse for disabled people aged 16-24. 32.1% said they “regularly” felt lonely. This compared to 4.7% of their non-disabled peers.

This is also a problem for children. As the Office for National Statistics (ONS) noted:

we found that 11.3% of children in Great Britain aged 10 to 15 years answered ‘often’ when asked how often they felt lonely. This answer was more common among younger children aged 10 to 12 years compared with those aged 13 to 15 years.

Action for Children found that 43% of 17-25-year-olds had “problems with loneliness”.

It starts with us

Tiffin told The Canary:

I wrote the thread as I often find myself lonely. With the world becoming ever more digital, we are able to go days or even weeks without meaningful contact. Loneliness is something that’s so easy to address. It starts with each and every one of us. Finding a couple of hours a week to visit your friends and family once or twice isn’t a big ask for most people.

Our population is ageing. Studies show loneliness is only going to get worse unless we do something now.

Teaching our youth, as well as older people, to make personal visits instead of electronic check-ins, is so simple, yet can be very effective. The state of our society is often judged [on] how we treat our vulnerable and elderly. It’s not doing well if more and more people are reporting that they feel lonely because nobody comes to see them.

His point that dealing with loneliness “starts with each and every one of us” is important. Never more so than in the wake of Brexit.

Healing fractures

Tiffin rightly points out that we all need to take more time to physically see people. But perhaps some of these lessons on loneliness could reach further. Brexit has fractured the UK. People on different sides of the argument are tearing strips off each other on Twitter. But does either side fully understand the other?

Maybe we should all spend more time in our local communities. We could all stop on the street and speak with our neighbours. Each of us could help organise in our area. Moreover, we could all actually listen to each other. Because if we did this, instead of believing the pictures the media and politicians paint, words like “traitor” and “thick” wouldn’t get thrown around. We could find common ground, understanding each other better.  And maybe, just maybe, we’d not only combat loneliness but also stop playing into the ‘divide and conquer’ game the establishment class are playing.

Loneliness can affect anyone. But everyone can help to end it. Maybe now’s the time to heal our society as well.

Featured image via PublicDomainPictures – pixabay 

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  • Show Comments
    1. You won’t be as lonely in a smaller community, if one lives in Scotland as it diversifies from the UK. Javid actually thinks this is London North.
      Wow, how lonely can you be living in Sunderland. Socially left out??
      Anyone in London who has buckets of money I’m sure doesn’t feel too lonely just now. Being British finally has a close feeling of being in a huge family I’m sure.
      But its not for everyone.
      Take up gardening, and turn off the news.. The news is terrible, and
      its really hard to feel lonely after eating a carrot you’ve grown.
      Especially amongst friends.

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