Investigation into loneliness ‘crisis’ among London’s young

Published: Wednesday 27 May 2015 - 12:15

ACEVO announces study of the causes of chronic loneliness among 16-34 year-olds in London, dubbed the ‘loneliness capital of Europe’.

  • Research part of new flagship local policy series from third sector leaders’ group.

  • ACEVO calls on next year’s London Mayoral Candidates to pledge tackle urban loneliness as part of their agendas.

Charity chiefs’ group ACEVO today launches a research project on loneliness among London’s young people, with a call to arms to next year’s London mayoral candidates to take up urban isolation as a major campaign theme.

The research project, funded by City Bridge Trust, will publish its final report in the autumn, when the candidates in London’s mayoral race are likely to be confirmed.

ACEVO’s study will examine the causes of and potential solutions to loneliness in London’s young. A 2013 study by pollsters ComRes named London the loneliest city in the UK, with 52% saying they feel lonely.

Britain is the loneliest country in the EU, according to Office for National Statistics data which say Britons are least likely to have strong friendships or know their neighbours.

“Young people are suffering”

Although in-depth research into loneliness has focused almost exclusively on the elderly, surveys show the problem is also acute amongst young people. A nationwide survey by Opinium last month showed 83% of 18-34-year-olds are ‘often, always or sometimes’ lonely.

Commenting on the launch of the project, ACEVO Director of Public Policy Asheem Singh pointed to the lack of existing research on youth loneliness:

“Most research on loneliness focuses on the elderly, but recent surveys suggest that our young people are suffering too. There is a loneliness crisis among London’s young and the city should be determined to shake off the tag of ‘loneliness capital of Europe’.

“The worry is that, as life gets faster and more complex, the unique problems of finding your way and being part of a community in the big city are being overlooked. Given that loneliness has severe consequences for physical and mental health, society cannot afford to ignore the issue.”

“This research is the first in a series of local reports from ACEVO that examine significant social issues around the country on the ground. As politicians continue to devolve power and make services more local, the third sector’s policy making must do the same.

“ACEVO is uniquely positioned to draw together social leaders in local communities to tackle this issue head-on. We’ll propose ways for charities and social enterprises to come together and scale up their work to tackle the complex problem of urban loneliness. We want to make sure that next year’s London mayoral candidates have loneliness at the top of their agenda.”

Details of the research

ACEVO’s research will feature specially commissioned interviews and surveys, as well as case studies of successful third sector initiatives to reduce loneliness experienced by young people.

It will look at:

  • the effects of migration from other parts of the UK to London;
  • the capital’s housing crisis;
  • working conditions for young people;
  • how social media fuels social anxiety and ‘fear of missing out’.

In designing the project, ACEVO consulted with the Campaign to End Loneliness, a network of national and local organisations which work to reduce loneliness in later life. Commenting on the launch, Campaign to End Loneliness Director Laura Ferguson said:

“We’re very pleased ACEVO has launched this initiative. Loneliness is a problem for all ages and more research is needed – particularly with respect to tackling loneliness amongst young people. We look forward to reading the conclusions of ACEVO’s research, which complements our own work into loneliness amongst older people.”

ACEVO welcomes comments and opportunities for shared learning from relevant third sector bodies. Interested organisations should email


Notes for editors

The Association of Chief Executives of Voluntary Organisations (ACEVO) has since 1987 supported, connected and represented the leaders of the UK’s 1,300 largest charities and social enterprises. More information available at The Loneliness Project’s webpage is available at

Most research into loneliness has focused on the elderly, but surveys show the problem is most acute among young people. Results of a April 2015 nationwide survey by Opinium show 83% of 18-34-year-olds are ‘often, always or sometimes’ lonely. By contrast, around half (48%) of people aged 55+ said they never feel lonely.

London’s next mayoral election takes place on 5 May 2016. See Wikipedia for a comprehensive guide to the candidates:,_2016.

An October 2013 ComRes poll for the BBC found ‘half of adults’ in the UK experience loneliness:

For media comment please contact the ACEVO Press Office, or 07825894716.