Pope brands loneliness a serious evil afflicting the world

In an interview for Italian newspaper La Repubblica, Pope Francis said that: “The most serious of the evils that afflict the world these days are youth unemployment and the loneliness of the old.” (1)

Responding to the Pope’s comments, Kate Jopling, Director for the Campaign to End Loneliness, says:

“The Pope is right to highlight loneliness as a serious problem. Between six and 13 per cent of people aged over 65 in the UK say they feel always or very lonely. As our population ages the number of people reporting as lonely is only going to go up.

“Research demonstrates that loneliness and isolation can be as harmful to our health as smoking 15 cigarettes a day. It may be easy to ignore those that are lonely, but ultimately loneliness will leave people at higher risk of the onset of a disability, Alzheimer’s disease, mental health problems and obesity.

“It’s important that we address the cause of the problem and not just treat the symptoms. So far only 61 out of 128 local areas have recognised loneliness as an issue in their core health and wellbeing strategy. This is simply not good enough.