One in four disabled people experience loneliness on a typical day, a new report launched by Sense has revealed.
The research, conducted as part of the Jo Cox Commission on Loneliness, reveals that disabled people in the UK are still being marginalised by negative public attitude, with a quarter (26 per cent) of Brits admitting that they had avoided conversations with disabled people.
Only half (52 per cent) of those responding to the study believed that they had much in common with disabled people, whilst ‘fear of causing offence’ (30 per cent), ‘feeling uncomfortable’ (20 per cent) or ‘not knowing what to talk about’ (17 per cent) with disabled people were the most commonly cited reason reasons for avoiding conversations.
The report, ‘Someone Cares If I’m Not There’, is part of the coalition’s work to highlight the disproportionately high levels of loneliness amongst disabled people, one in two (53 per cent) of whom report feeling lonely, and just under a quarter (23 per cent) say that they experience loneliness on a typical day.
The Jo Cox Commission on Loneliness aims to start a national conversation on the ‘silent epidemic’ of isolation across the UK. Over the next month, a coalition of 21 disability charities, led by Sense, will shine a spotlight on the issue of loneliness for disabled people and the steps that can be taken to help tackle it.
Rachel Reeves MP, Co-chair of the Jo Cox Commission on Loneliness, said many of the barriers to building social connections for disabled people were practical ones, such as the need for accessible transport and buildings, financial support and appropriate social care.
“But public attitudes also play a part in the risk of loneliness for people with disability. Increasing awareness of different conditions and battling misconceptions about disability are both important steps to help reduce loneliness amongst disabled people,” she said.
Richard Kramer, Deputy Chief Executive of Sense, said loneliness was disproportionally high amongst disabled people, many of whom say they feel lonely every single day.
“We all have things in common, however, outdated attitudes towards disability are still preventing people from striking up conversations and finding the shared interests that are often the key to friendship. Better understanding of disability and a shift in societal awareness are a key step in allowing disabled people to play a full part in society with the same opportunities to make connections as everybody else,” he said.
You can find the full report at www.sense.org.uk/loneliness