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People from BAME backgrounds more likely to feel lonely

FINDINGS: People from BAME backgrounds and loneliness

RESEARCH PUBLISHED this week reveals that people from Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) backgrounds may be more vulnerable to loneliness and face greater barriers in accessing help to overcome it.

To mark Loneliness Awareness Week (June 17-21), the British Red Cross and Co-op have published their Barriers to Belonging report, working with the Centre for Loneliness Studies at the University of Sheffield and the Runnymede Trust, which is a race equality think tank.

This research looks in particular at the experiences of loneliness among people from BAME communities in the UK – an area previously underexplored.

From the report, their key findings revealed that people who feel like they ‘belong’ to their community are less likely to feel lonely, however, people from BAME backgrounds face multiple challenges that may mean they may be more likely to experience loneliness.

These include:
o Increased likelihood of discrimination and fear of stigma, which can impact on their sense of belonging
o Greater barriers to accessing help for loneliness and joining in community activities, including a lack of money and time
o Some cultures may also attach increased stigma to talking about feelings and causes of loneliness – such as mental health issues – making it potentially harder for people in some BAME communities to open up and seek help

This is the latest research into loneliness published by British Red Cross and Co-op, and builds on the landmark report Trapped in a Bubble, which found that more than 9 million adults across the UK are always or often lonely.

Off the back of the findings, the British Red Cross and Co-op are calling for a Government commitment to spending on services to combat loneliness – and for greater inclusivity and diversity from those providing these services.

Paul Amadi, Chief Supporter Officer and executive sponsor for inclusion and diversity at the British Red Cross, said: “We all need to ask if we’re doing enough to make our institutions, services and workplaces as inclusive, diverse and welcoming to people of all backgrounds as they can be.

“And we need the Government to make a commitment to spending on services and activities to help combat loneliness and improve people’s health and wellbeing – reaching those most in need, irrespective of race, culture, geography or income.

“If those from BAME backgrounds are at a greater risk of loneliness, any initiative to connect people with each other needs to be designed with that in mind.

“No one should feel isolated or unable to make friends and meaningful connections with others because they feel excluded by their ethnicity, or anything else. Whether in the workplace or the community, let’s make sure everyone feels comfortable and confident getting support.”

Ruwaida Adam Mohammed, Co-chair of the Co-op’s BAME Rise network and a project officer in the food team, commented: “As this research shows, people from BAME communities can often face specific issues that can cause them to feel lonely and we need to fully understand those if we are to help.

“I know from my own community that, culturally, we can tend not to speak up about some of these issues and that people sometimes suffer loneliness and social isolation in silence.

“It can be seen as taboo to suggest that we could possibly be lonely, especially where we live together in big family units, and we need to address that stigma so that people can talk more openly about their feelings.”

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