Young hit worst by loneliness

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ALMOST two thirds of adults in Leeds are lonely, and the issue is most acute among young people, new research has found.

Social interaction is in decline and contributing to a rise in loneliness in the city, according to research by social initiative The Big Lunch.

The survey showed 64 per cent of adults in Leeds say they feel lonely either often, always or sometimes. This is at its height among 18 to 34-year-olds, with 83 per cent experiencing loneliness. More than a third of respondents in Leeds now have less interaction with people they know than they did five years ago.

The research also revealed that adults in Leeds spend only 47 minutes a day engaging in social interaction and, in a typical week, interact with only six friends, family members or neighbours – be it a face-to-face conversation, a phone call or chatting online. Over a quarter wish they had more friends but 34 per cent admit they find it harder to make new friends than they did 10 years ago

The research was commissioned by The Big Lunch, an annual event held on June 7 to encourage people to host get-togethers with their neighbours. It has been working with Dr Rebecca Harris of the University of Bolton on the study.

She said: “Research shows that our brains treat loneliness in the same way as physical pain and it has been associated with poor mental and physical health, so it’s important that people take steps to overcome it.”