We base all of our campaigning on the growing research evidence on loneliness.
In 2011 we founded the Research and Policy Hub – an international network of university academics, other researchers and practitioners working to increase and develop the evidence base on the issue of loneliness in older age – that informs so much of our work.
This page provides a summary of the latest thinking and research on loneliness.
How can you measure loneliness?
Loneliness is a subjective feeling, and can be difficult to measure.
The ONS has also created a guide which describes the measures included in the national indicator which was recommended by the UK Government’s Loneliness Strategy. The measures used are the UCLA three item scale and the single item question ‘How often do you feel lonely’. 
In total , 45% of adults feel occasionally, sometimes or often lonely in England. This equates to over twenty five million people 
5.0% of people in Great Britain (2.6 million adults) reported that they felt lonely “often” or “always” between 3 April and 3 May 2020, about the same proportion as pre-lockdown.
Demographic trends in the UK mean the number of over 50s suffering from loneliness is set to reach two million by 2025/6. This compares to around 1.4 million in 2016/7 – a 49% increase in 10 years 
In 2016 to 2017, there were 5% of adults (aged 16 years and over) in England reporting feeling lonely “often/always” – that’s 1 in 20 adults. Furthermore, 16% of adults reported feeling lonely sometimes and 24% occasionally 
Characteristics of people who are more likely to experience loneliness include: those who are widowed, those with poorer health and those with long-term illness or disability. 43.45% of the group reporting bad or very bad health are often/always lonely 
Loneliness demonstrates a U-shaped distribution, with those aged under 25 years and those aged over 65 demonstrating the highest levels of loneliness 
Consistently, academic reviews conclude that there is not enough good evidence to prove which interventions work best. This is largely because the studies are small scale and short term, but it does not mean that interventions do not work.
For instance, Victor et al (2019) conducted a review of loneliness interventions for the What Works for Wellbeing Centre and found 14 relevant reviews and 14 relevant studies from grey literature.
The main findings of the What Works for Wellbeing Centre report conclude that while it is unclear what approaches are most effective in reducing loneliness, there were several mechanisms for reducing loneliness that were identified. They include:
Tailoring interventions to the needs of people for whom they are designed
Developing approaches which avoid stigma or reinforce isolation
Supporting meaningful relationships
Across all studies it showed that targeting programmes was useful because it offered a safe space for people to socialise in new settings. Also promising was the involvement of individuals in neighbourhood projects where reconnecting with people was a benefit, primarily though social groups and activities. These were the most successful mechanisms for helping older people make new connections.
The Campaign to End Loneliness is hosted by the What Works Centre for Wellbeing, a registered Community Interest Company. CIC 9461422.
This site has been built to be accessible for everyone. We have closely followed the guidelines set by the Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI) and the Wide Web Consortium (W3C).
The text colour and the background colour have been accessibility checked to determine if they provide enough of a contrast when viewed by someone having color deficits or when viewed on a black and white screen. If you find the screen hard to read, you can switch the colour scheme into "High contrast" mode by clicking the small "screen" icon in the top right of the page. You can also increase the font size if you are having trouble with reading text.
Reading PDFs (Portable Document Files)
To read PDFs you need to have Adobe Reader installed on your computer. Most computers will already have this but if not you can download it free of charge from the Adobe site.
If you have any comments about how we can approve the accessibility of our site, please contact us and let us know.
You can help end loneliness
The Campaign to End Loneliness inspires thousands of organisations and people to do more to tackle the health threat of loneliness in older age.
If you'd like to keep in touch, please leave your name and email below, or just click the orange button to go to make your donation.