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More than a quarter of people will not see loved ones during the festive period, while four in 10 are worried about a relative or friend being lonely this Christmas, according to a survey.
A poll of 2,100 adults in Great Britain commissioned by the British Psychological Society (BPS) found that 41% were worried about those close to them feeling isolated in coming weeks and 27% said they were not planning on spending Christmas with loved ones.
The poll, which came before new tier 4 restrictions banned travel and households mixing for millions of people, shows the huge effect of loneliness that will likely be made worse under the new rules.
“The numbers feeling lonely after the new announcements on tier 4 will be higher than our findings showed,” said Vivian Hill, chair of the BPS coronavirus working group on isolation and confinement. “Already today I have been in contact with people saying they can hardly bear the thought of it going on much longer,” .
On Saturday, Boris Johnson issued a new “stay at home” order covering London and much of the south and east of England, and dramatically curtailed plans for Christmas mixing nationwide, in response to a new fast-spreading strain of coronavirus.
Hill said: “The first thing is the huge disappointment [of Johnson’s announcement]. It was always incredibly ambitious to have five days of mixing over Christmas.”
She said it was really important that people stay in touch with loved ones and built in regular contact to their daily routines as we head to the “bleakest months of the year” where it is “cold and miserable”. She added that going outside was also important.
Before this announcement, YouGov figures showed that 18% were already worried about feeling lonely. In a separate questionnaire, 90% of single people who were actively seeking a new romantic relationship since the start of the pandemic agreed that they had experienced feelings of loneliness, with 78% saying they had not found it easy to meet new people.
Hill said that she has been impressed by the lengths to which people had gone to stay connected, without risking the health of older family members. “I have noticed things in my community such as my local school sending children to sing carols outside houses of the elderly. That was really uplifting.” She said it is now about people holding their nerves for the last months of the pandemic before the world can go back to normal.
She said it was a particularly hard time for young people who focused a lot on socialising, particularly those who have just started university, finding themselves in isolation.
“I think all societies and communities have a focal point in the year where they reconnect and come together,” Hill said. “The commercialism of Christmas has been hugely compromised [this year] but the ethos of reconnecting and reflecting on the year and sustaining those relationships does not have to be compromised.
“You cannot do as much in person but I have been impressed by those who have written long letters to older people.”
Previous research revealed that younger people were more likely to have experienced loneliness than older people during the lockdown, according to research by the Office for National Statistics (ONS).
People aged 16 to 24 were more than twice as likely (50.8%) to have experienced “lockdown loneliness” as those aged 55 to 69 (24.1%) the survey of 5,260 adults in Great Britain found. The over-70s were no more likely than average to suffer this modern malady.
The later BPS commissioned survey was conducted online between 14 and 15 December 2020. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all adults in Great Britain.
Source: The Guardian
Keyword: Poll reveals concerns over Christmas loneliness in Great Britain | Loneliness