The UK is in the grip of an “epidemic of loneliness” among the young, according to a think tank that says the pandemic may have worsened the problem.
The proportion of people aged between 18 and 34 who say that they have one or no close friends has tripled in a decade, the report from the Onward think tank said.
Those aged between 18 and 24 are now nearly half as likely to say that they often speak to neighbours compared with 1998, the research found. They are also a third less likely to borrow and exchange favours with neighbours.
Onward’s Age of Alienation report, combining data from official surveys with polling by Stack Data Strategy, says that declines in younger generations’ interpersonal social networks have become far worse in recent years. It says this suggests that the pandemic “may be contributing to an ‘epidemic of loneliness’ among young people”. The report calls on ministers to introduce national civic service for people aged between 18 and 35, with a voluntary expectation that every young person completes ten days of volunteering a year. Volunteers could be encouraged, the think tank proposes, by civic rewards that could be redeemed against student loan or training course costs.
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The proportion of people aged between 18 and 34 who say that they have one or no close friends has tripled in a decade, the report from the Onward think tank said https://t.co/aRNKlx0jKb
— The Times Scotland (@thetimesscot) July 9, 2021