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Loneliness Awareness Week 2022: Shining a light on the issue of loneliness and how Shared Reading can help  

Written by Rachael Norris, 13th June 2022

This Loneliness Awareness Week (13 – 17 June), we’re publishing new survey data which shows the extent of the issue in the UK and highlights how Shared Reading can help. 

Our research, which was carried out by independent agency Opinium*, draws on data from 2,000 UK adults and reveals: 

  • Around three-quarters (72%) of people across the UK think loneliness is a growing problem in today’s society 
  • 3 in 10 (28%) feel more lonely since the pandemic. This increases to 43% amongst young people aged 18-34 years old compared to just 14% of those aged over 55
  • Around half (46%) say even when they are with others they feel alone
  • 4 in 10 (38%) feel less lonely when they read 

Throughout The Reader’s twenty-year history, we’ve seen how important the quality of connection is when it comes to tackling loneliness and improving wellbeing. 

Data collected from our community of Readers** shows: 

  • 80% of group members agree that taking part in Shared Reading helps them to connect with others in a deeper way 
  • 94% agree they feel that they belong in the group
  • 95% agree that taking part in Shared Reading makes them feel better

Volunteer Reader Leader, Helen, has chronic pain and says reading with a group of fellow chronic pain sufferers has changed her life: “I had got to the point where I rarely left my house and the only people I saw were my family and medics. I didn’t realise how isolated I had become and I got very anxious when I thought about going out in public.  

Through reading with others as part of my Shared Reading group I have been able to see a way ahead and it has given me the confidence to start to live my life again. I owe my life to that group and Shared Reading.”  

Geetha Rabindrakumar, Director of Impact, The Reader said: “We need to think differently about loneliness as a society – it’s not just about having contact with others but about making that contact meaningful.  

Every day we see how reading together helps people connect and gives them the time and space to share their thoughts and feelings.  

People who come to our groups will often say that they don’t like poetry or great fiction but then a line in a poem will connect with what they’ve been through and it can be incredibly powerful. I would urge anyone who is feeling alone to find out what is going on in their community and join a Shared Reading group.” 

We currently run over 570 Shared Reading groups across the UK and plan to launch many more, by working in partnership with local organisations tackling loneliness including libraries, charities, and health and social care services. 

To join a Shared Reading group, find details on the Find a Group page of our website or call 0151 729 2200 to talk to us about how Shared Reading could start in your community.  

*The research by Opinium was conducted via an online survey between 20/05/22 - 24/05/22 among a nationally representative audience of 2,000 UK adults (18+).  

**Data collected from 471 group members of community-based Shared Reading groups in 2021/22 


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