€40 million to combat loneliness, as figures highlight impact of coronavirus
The government has allocated €40 million for special projects to combat loneliness, which will include help for local council initiatives and more research.
The need to combat loneliness is increasingly urgent, junior health minister Martin van Ooijen said in a briefing to MPs.
‘The coronavirus period has made us extra aware of the fact everyone can feel lonely,’ he said. ‘The need to “feel part of something” and “to matter” are a basic need.’
Research published by national statistics agency CBS on Thursday showed that four in 10 people over the age of 15 reported feeling lonely or very lonely at some point last year.
The figures, based on a survey of 7,000 people, reflect a rise of seven percentage points on the pre coronavirus pandemic era in 2019, when one third of people said they sometimes felt lonely or very alone.
Youngsters were most likely to feel lonely last year with 13.5% saying they felt extremely lonely at times – up from just over 8% in 2019. Schools and colleges were closed for much of the period and gatherings were banned.
However, the over-75s, who were most likely to feel very lonely in 2019, actually felt less lonely during the pandemic. In 2019, almost 11% said they were very lonely, but this fell to 9.4% last year. Older pensioners were the only age group to feel less lonely during the year, which included several months of partial lockdown.
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