Loneliness is something we usually associate with older generations, but new research suggests millions of men across the UK are hiding feelings of isolation, with men feeling most lonely at the age of 35.
The study finds an estimated eight million (35%) men feel lonely at least once a week, while for nearly three million (11%), it’s a daily occurrence.
More than one in 10 men also say they are lonely, but would not admit it to anyone.
The research has been published to mark the launch of a month-long spotlight on men, by the cross-party Jo Cox Commission on Loneliness.
The month-long campaign has been launched by Rachel Reeves (Labour) and Seema Kennedy (Conservative) to shine a spotlight on male loneliness and explore practical solutions to addressing it.
The research, conducted for the commission by the Royal Voluntary Service, also reveals triggers to loneliness.
Those who have felt or feel lonely said the situations that made them feel that way were moving away from friends and family (18%), going through a breakup (17%), being unemployed (17%) and following the death of a family member (17%).
Over a quarter of men aged 65-69 said retiring had made them feel lonely.
Other key findings from the research include:
:: 26 is the age that men think they had the largest group of friends and 38 when they had the smallest.
:: Of the men that had experienced or are experiencing loneliness the average age to feel most lonely was 35.
:: Over one in 20 men (7%) say they have no friends, and of those that do, nearly one in 10 (8 per cent) have no close friends .
:: Just under three in 10 (28%) see and speak to friends/family regularly.
:: Nearly one in 10 men (9%) do not see anyone on a regular basis.
:: Men who are, or have been lonely, say it makes them feel isolated (39%, depressed (35%) and less confident (27%).
Co-chair of the commission, Rachel Reeves, described loneliness as a “silent epidemic hidden inside every family and community in the UK”.
“For the next month, we will explore how and why men experience loneliness and most importantly shine a light on the practical steps that can be taken to combat it. Now is the time to break the silence – and start a conversation,” she said.
In support of the spotlight month, Prudential UK, a partner company of Royal Voluntary Service, has produced a film following three older men who’ve faced loneliness and conquered it through the support of their communities
One of the stars of the film, Ken Stanyer, 88, from Stoke-on-Trent said: “I’ve always been a social person but when my wife passed away, it knocked me for six. I wouldn’t see anyone for days and found myself feeling incredibly lonely.
“I decided to do something about it and asked people where I could go to learn to dance and to socialise. They told me about the dance club the Royal Voluntary Service runs at Hanley Community Centre and it’s made a huge difference to me - Mondays are now one of the high points of the week!”
To support the commission’s campaign, people are also being encouraged to use the hashtag #happytochat on Twitter and Facebook to raise awareness of loneliness and how many of us it can affect.
To find out more about the commission and to how to get involved in tackling loneliness in your community visit jocoxloneliness.org.