Loneliness is not the same as social isolation

People can be isolated (alone) yet not feel lonely. People can be surrounded by other people, yet still feel lonely.

Loneliness is a subjective feeling about the gap between a person’s desired levels of social contact and their actual level of social contact. It refers to the perceived quality of the person’s relationships. One common description of loneliness is the feeling we get when our need for rewarding social contact and relationships is not met. But loneliness is not always the same as being alone.

When people feel socially isolated, this can be overcome relatively quickly by increasing the number of people they are in contact with.

Human beings are social creatures

Our connection to others enables us to survive and thrive. Yet, as we age, many of us are alone more often than when we were younger, leaving us vulnerable to social isolation and loneliness—and related health problems such as cognitive decline, depression, and heart disease. Health risks associated with loneliness and social isolation are comparable to the dangers of smoking and obesity.

People who feel lonely may also have weakened immune cells that have trouble fighting off viruses, which makes them more vulnerable to some infectious diseases.

Conversely, people who engage in meaningful, productive activities with others tend to live longer, boost their mood, and have a sense of purpose. These activities seem to help maintain their well-being and may improve their cognitive function, studies show.

Social isolation isn't limited to older people

New research shows that many young people are also subject to feelings of loneliness and social isolation. The research findings could be linked to the “new challenges” young people face for the first time, such as moving away from home or starting new jobs.

People can also feel lonely because of the feeling of being misunderstood, or singled out by life events, a health condition or other circumstances.

How can we help?

Essex has initiated the United in Kind Social Movement to tackle loneliness and isolation and connect people together.

To get more information in this follow our social media channels to get keep up to date with local initiatives and how to join in using #UnitedinKind.

Or contact your local united in Kind Coaches Contact your local coach for help in starting activities in your own area, if you would like to volunteer as a Community Champion or if you know a person who would benefit from signposting to activities near them, that can help them to be better connected to their community.

Area Name Phone Email

Braintree District

Jayne Laken

07458 300903



Donna Reilly

07458 300901



Ali Perrott

07458 300899


Castle Point

Anna Wilson

07458 300897


Chelmsford District

Stella Scrivener

07458 300902


Colchester Borough

H Goodwin

07458 300894


Epping Forest District

Nick Robinson

07849 087920



Sarah Ayling



Maldon District

Amy Melton

07458 300900


Rochford District

Nadine Allwood

07458 300898


Tendring District

Suzanne Howe

07458 300898


Uttlesford District

Kim Clark

07849 087991


Organisations that connect people of all ages and interests


Website that allows you to find face-to-face groups of people who share your interests or aspirations.

Befriending Networks

Information on befriending, including an online directory of UK befriending services. 

Campaign Against Living Miserably (CALM)

Provides listening services, information and support for men at risk of suicide, including a web chat.

  • 0800 58 58 58 (UK helpline)
  • 0808 802 58 58 (London helpline)
Carers UK

Advice and support for people caring for someone else.

  • 0808 808 7777
Cruse Bereavement Care

Information and support after a bereavement.

  • 0808 808 1677

Lists UK volunteering opportunities.

Empty Closets

Online community for anyone aged over 13 who identifies as gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender, or is curious or unsure.


Advice and practical support for single parent families.

  • 0808 802 0925

Directory of services and groups for people who are lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender.

National Council for Voluntary Organisations (NCVO)

Information about volunteering, including details of local centres.


Social activities for people over 75 who have little or no social support.


Provides help and support with relationships, including counselling, telephone counselling and anonymous live chat.

  • 0300 003 0396

Open 24/7 for anyone who needs to talk. You can visit some branches in person


Provides practical information and emotional support for disabled people.

  • 0808 800 3333
The Silver Line

Provides support, information, friendship and advice for older people (over 55) who may feel lonely or isolated.

  • 0800 470 80 90
Social Farms & Gardens

Information on care farming and community growing projects, including a network of local farms.

Student Minds

Mental health charity that supports students.

Victim Support

Provides emotional and practical support for people affected by crime and traumatic events.

  • 0808 168 9111
Web of Loneliness

Online community and website which provides information and tips on loneliness. Also allows users to share artwork and poetry.


Connect with people virtually

Digital Boomers was created together with Essex County Council to promote independent living for older people using technology. It is committed to improving digital skills for the health and social care workforce and for over 55s and people with disabilities to help them live more independently, and be more tech confident. 

Visit the website today to find out more.

Get in touch

Click the below button to take our online assessment to help you understand more about your health needs, prioritise them and find the right support for you.

Take the Online Assessment TODAY

Alternatively, if you would like to speak to someone about any of our services, or would like assistance taking the assessment online please contact us on 0300 303 9988 or email provide.essexwellbeing@nhs.net to talk to one of our friendly team members.

Take the Online Assessment TODAY
Whether you're self isolating, shielding or continuing to work from home these handy tips to looking after your mental wellbeing will help you stay connected and active.
United in Kind are the people around Essex committed to tackling loneliness and isolation through acts of kindness.