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Staggering new figures show that nine million people in the UK feel lonely "often" or "always". These figures reflect responses across all age groups - and it has been shown that the 18-24 age bracket reported feeling lonely more often than older groups. However, it is clear from the overall stats that the UK is struggling with the issue of loneliness, and it is worrying to think that if nothing is changed, this issue will only get worse.
The Reading Agency has published more detailed figures that show seven million people will experience loneliness by 2030 in the over 60 age category alone, and almost 2 million people will have a life shortened due to loneliness. A new report, commissioned by The Reading Agency and carried out by the leading independent think tank Demos, has said that reading can help to 'significantly' reduce feelings of loneliness in ages 18-64.
Both Demos and The Reading Agency are campaigning for the government to take reading more seriously in order to tackle the increasing problem of loneliness by investing £200 million into a "Book Relief" scheme. Akin to work carried out by Sport Relief, this proposed scheme will see money raised for charities that champion reading.
However as well as calling on the government to help, The Reading Agency has already got to work addressing loneliness. Their new Reading Friends scheme launched on the 30th of October at the British Film Institute works with librarians, authors, participants and representatives from partners such as the Big Lottery Fund, who have helped to fund the programme.
The Reading Friends initiative looks to engage older people who may have become isolated and experience loneliness by involving them in a range of either group or one-to-one reading with a volunteer. Head to the Reading Friends website to find out more about their work and watch the Reading Friends film 'Yarn Natter Blether'.
We love the work the Reading Agency is doing to promote reading and reduce loneliness. Here at LoveReading we understand how books can bring people together, and celebrate it regularly with our Book Club of the Month and Library of the Month features. Libraries are a great community pillar that offers other services and activities as well as books to borrow, and Book Clubs bring together people with a love of reading in a social setting.