Loneliness

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're 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 and also appointed the first ever Minister for Loneliness. The Strategy set out the measures the Government will put in place to tackle loneliness. We continue to work with Government and others to raise awareness of the needs of disabled people in all plans for tackling loneliness.

What we're calling for

  • Accessibility for disabled people to be built into all programmes seeking to tackle loneliness, this includes providing opportunities for people with complex disabilities to take part and benefit. 
  • 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.

What we've achieved 

Sense continues to engage with the Tackling Loneliness Team in the Department for Culture, Media and SportWe highlight loneliness in all of our policy areas and it’s a key part of our organisational strategy. 

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

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. 

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.

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