Half of disabled people say they are lonely, and one in four feel lonely every day. Loneliness and isolation among disabled people is a critical issue, and we are campaigning to solve the problem.

We are all likely to experience loneliness at some point in our lives. But having a disability means that you are more likely to be chronically lonely.

The causes of loneliness among disabled people are complex.

Many of the barriers to making friends and meeting people are practical, such as the need for accessible transport and buildings, financial support and appropriate social care.

A lack of understanding and awareness of disability is also a significant obstacle to making connections and forming friendships. 49 % of non-disabled people feel that they do not have anything in common with disabled people and 26 % admit to avoiding engaging in conversation with a disabled person.

In October 2018, the Government launched its Loneliness Strategy. The Strategy sets out the measures the Government will put in place to tackle loneliness. These include giving GPs the ability to refer lonely patients to social activities (social prescribing) and trialling a partnership service with Royal Mail in a number of areas where postal workers will check in on isolated people and help them link up with their communities or family as part of their postal rounds. In addition, £1.8 million has been made available to increase community spaces by making use of under used areas and creating new community facilities such as community cafes and gardens. 

What we're calling for

  • We want the government to provide appropriate funding for social care, and for local authorities to deliver better, more accessible services. This includes specific services that tackle loneliness, as well as broader social opportunities that enable people to get out and about in their community.
  • A more accessible society, in terms of transport, public buildings and homes, so that disabled people can access social opportunities.
  • The removal of financial obstacles, including barriers to employment and accessing welfare benefits, so that disabled people can work and enjoy social opportunities.

What we're doing

We are a member of the Jo Cox Commission on Loneliness, a group of disability charities working together to highlight the issue of loneliness and call for action. 

The Commission's final report, 'Combating loneliness one conversation at a time: A call to action' explores why loneliness affects so many people, including those with disabilities.

Sense is also a member of the Loneliness Action Group which has been tasked with securing a lasting legacy for the commission’s work.

Sense's report, ‘Someone cares if I'm not there’, explores why loneliness affects so many disabled people. The report was published in July 2017 and its key findings form part of the Commission's final report on loneliness.

Sense is also a founding member of the Campaign to End Loneliness, which aims to tackle isolation among older people. Loneliness particularly affects older people with disabilities, and we are campaigning to make sure that loneliness is acted upon as a public health priority at all levels.

Our 60th anniversary campaign, ‘We all need friends’, called for a national debate on friendship and disability. We spoke to 1,000 people about their experiences, and looked at what support is needed to overcome the barriers to making and sustaining friendships.

Get in touch

To keep up-to-date with all our campaigning news and find out what you can do to get involved, subscribe to our Campaigns Update.

Contact us