Senior man sitting on bench in garden.
More people in Folkestone & Hythe District reported feeling lonely, always or often, during the pandemic, than any where else in Kent, according to data released by the Office of National Statistics (ONS).
After a year of lockdowns, social distancing, and restrictions on travel and gatherings, some groups of people have reported high rates of loneliness and poorer well-being in recent months.
The highest rates of reported feelings of loneliness in Kent, is Folkestone & Hythe District with 11% reporting they “often or always” felt lonely.
The map represents the percentages of adults aged 16 years and over across Great Britain who were asked how often they felt lonely and responded with “often or always”. Other response options included: “some of the time”, “occasionally”, “hardly ever” and “never”.
Previous ONS research during the pandemic found nearly two-thirds of students had reported a worsening in their mental health and well-being. Over a quarter report feeling lonely often or always, a significantly higher amount than the adult population (8%). This is likely to be affecting loneliness scores for younger people in general at a local level.
Living in a single-person household, difficulties with relationships caused by the pandemic, and not having anyone to talk to have also contributed to experiences of loneliness.
Unemployment has been closely tied to loneliness levels during the pandemic. This was one of the most important factors identified through the ONS analyses. Local authority areas with a higher unemployment rate (as measured between October 2019 and September 2020) had higher proportions of residents who said they were often or always lonely (from Opinions and Lifestyle Survey results in the period from October 2020 to February 2021). Additionally, in areas where residents earn more on average per week, loneliness rates tend to be lower.
The effect of unemployment on loneliness is particularly strong in urban areas outside London, while in London there is no clear correlation.
Higher unemployment in an area is also linked to higher average anxiety in that area as well as poorer life satisfaction. During the pandemic, the link between high levels of unemployment and poorer life satisfaction has become stronger.
Loneliness has been linked to people feeling more anxious. Levels of anxiety have also broadly increased across most regions in Great Britain from pre-pandemic levels (the period April 2019 to March 2020 compared with April 2020 to September 2020).
During the pandemic, how densely populated an area is has become a more important factor for anxiety in local authorities in England, with higher population density linked to higher rates of anxiety. Further research is needed but this may be because of concerns around social distancing and the perceived risk of infection.
Local characteristics, as measured by the Thriving Places Index, are also connected to higher or lower levels of anxiety in an area, as reported in the Annual Population Survey.
But it is NOT all doom and gloom, the clocks have gone forward, there’s more light, plus “stage two” of lifting lockdown is just four days away.
There are many things you can try to help with loneliness; such as:
try talking about your feelings to a friend, family member, health professional or counsellor. You could also contact the Folkestone & Hythe Samirtans call: 116 123 or 0330 094 5717 email: firstname.lastname@example.org if you need someone to talk to.
Contact the Folkestone Haven opened on April 6th and operates Monday to Friday: 18:00 – 23:00, and on weekends and bank holidays between 12:00 – 23:00.
No appointment is necessary, but you can contact us for more information on: – 07827 533871 or by emailing us on Folkestone.Haven@Hestia.org or messaging us through Facebook – @HestiaFolkestoneHaven
Contact South Kent Mind – 01303 250090 or email email@example.com
Consider joining a group or class that focuses on something you enjoy; you could ask to go along and just watch first if you’re feeling nervous.
Consider visiting places where you can just be around other people – for example, a park, the beach, the canal.
Consider peer support, where people use their experiences to help each other. Find out more about peer support on the Mind website
try the 6 ways to feel happier, which are simple lifestyle changes to help you feel more in control and able to cope
Write to us about your experience of loneliness and we’ll publish your stories.
The Shepway Vox Team
Journalism for the people NOT the Powerful