BLAISE TAPP: It's not just little old ladies who are lonely

Although I am  generally happy with my lot in life, there are a number of issues which I really should get a grip of.

Saturday, 2nd June 2018, 2:44 pm
Updated Saturday, 2nd June 2018, 2:47 pm
Blaise's head is beginning to resemble Bobby Charlton's

There is my weight to start with. I recently weighed myself for the first time since I started eating Quavers for breakfast and the stark reality is I would have a decent advantage over a heavyweight boxer, although his bulk will be the culmination of years of intense training and high protein diets as opposed to my chip butty fuelled descent into a fully-fledged fatty.

Then there is the barnet, which is a disgrace, partly because I don't own a comb '“ I have always believed they are only for women and the Fonz '“,not to mention the barren patch in the middle of my bonce, which is leaving me looking like Bobby Charlton, circa 1973.

While there are other things I would like to change '“ the 6.25am starts and not being able croon like The King '“ I am as content as any exhausted 41-year-old, married dad of two ever will be.

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One thing I am pretty sure I won't be for a long time yet is lonely but latest statistics suggest millions of us seriously long for meaningful human contact. The Office of National Statistics has published a study into the problem, revealing five per cent of Britons aged 16 and above feel alone almost all of the time.

Then there are the millions who have experienced loneliness more than once and the report reveals it's not just affect little old ladies. It is teenagers and young adults, those aged 16 to 24, who are most susceptible to feeling lonely, especially those living in rented properties.

There are 13 factors which are consistent among those who feel lonely and several of these relate to how secure in their communities  these people feel. Liking where you live, knowing your neighbours, along with having a sense of pride or belonging in where you live all seem pretty obvious things to me but clearly many people are cut off from their communities. 

It is no surprise some have interpreted these findings as being the clearest evidence yet that technology is standing in the way of youngsters forming real, solid friendships and relationships. And they would have a point as the quest for likes and the approval of virtual strangers on social media is obviously no substitute for a proper face-to-face conversation.

But you cannot blame gadgets and the internet alone, the problem runs deeper than that. As a younger man, the first place I headed to was the local pub and I didn't look back.

Pubs are still closing at an alarming rate and meeting places such as social and youth clubs are becoming few and far between.

Theresa May has pledged to tackle loneliness and this report is part of that but she and her government need to invest in rebuilding our communities.

Loneliness might be an alien concept to you and I but it is very real to millions.