New research from disability charity Scope has uncovered just how series a problem is amongst disabled people, particularly young adults.
A survey of 1,004 disabled people found that two-thirds of disabled people had felt lonely in the past year, jumping to three quarters of working-age disabled people. Worryingly, 45% of respondents say that they are chronically lonely, say they often or always feel lonely.
Perhaps most shocking of all is the fact that 85% of young disabled adults, aged 18 to 34, feel lonely.
The charity found that, in a typical day, on in eight disabled people spend less than half an hour interacting with another person.
It’s a sad picture for millions of people. Scope say that a number of factors are having an impact.
Cost of living, the charity says, make it harder to socialise and see people. Underfunding in the social care system also makes it harder for disabled people to get the support they need to socialise, get to work and live the life they choose. And parents of disabled children report that they do not have access to activities in their community, leaving families isolated.
“It’s not just older people who experience loneliness. I often felt like I was watching life as a spectator, rather than being a part of what was happening around me,” says Carly, 35, was diagnosed with autism in her early 30s and is a full-time carer, advocate and film maker. “I still feel lonely. I try and do a lot of voluntary work, but if I want to make friends I have to actively go out and find them. It’s hard for me to meet people who are like me, so life can be very isolating sometimes.”
Mark Atkinson, Chief Executive at disability charity Scope, said: “Our new research has exposed the hidden reality of many disabled people’s lives. It’s scandalous that nearly half of disabled adults experience chronic loneliness, and the vast majority of young disabled adults are lonely.
“We know from the emotional support, advice and information we provide to disabled people and their families how important it is to feel connected, and be part of society.
“The government must ensure that disabled people get the financial and social care support they need, and they are not left isolated and cut off from society.
“In order to do this, we urge the government to develop a cross-departmental disability strategy. They need to ensure that the investment we make in social care and benefits provides a decent standard of living for disabled people, rather than allowing loneliness and isolation to thrive.”
To find out more about Scope, head to www.scope.org.uk.