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Churches could help curb loneliness in men

by Eno Adeogun

A campaign spearheaded by the late MP Jo Cox warned today that more than one in three men feel lonely "at least once a week", while nearly three million battle feelings of lonesomeness on a daily basis.

The survey of 1,200 men found that around 10% bottle up feelings of isolation, preferring not to admit their loneliness and around 35% said being lonely made them feel depressed.

The figures were released as part of Spotlight on Men month, which was launched by the Jo Cox Commission on Loneliness.

The survey of 1,200 men also found that 11% are lonely on a daily basis but around 10% wouldn't admit it.

Thirty-five was the average age men felt the loneliest, with 9% saying they do not see anyone regularly.

Nathan Blackerby, the Executive Director of Ministry at Christian Vision For Men, told Premier, loneliness in men is an issue that the church can help with.

"I actually think the church has a huge responsibility but also a huge opportunity to make a massive difference here for millions of guys.

"It's really simple - just make some mates and enable men in our churches to be resourced, encouraged, equipped to get out there and make these friendships."

Triggers of loneliness are thought to include bereavement, moving away from loved ones, experiencing a break-up, or being unemployed.

Labour MP Rachel Reeves, who co-chairs the commission, said: "Loneliness is a silent epidemic hidden inside every family and community in the UK and can affect any one of us and at any time.

"For the next month, we will explore how and why men experience loneliness and most importantly shine a light on the practical steps that can be taken to combat it.

"Now is the time to break the silence - and start a conversation."

A 2014 study by population change think tank International Longevity Centre estimates 1.5 million men will be living alone in England and Wales by 2030.

Seema Kennedy, a Tory MP and co-chair of the commission, said: "Today we are calling on the public, businesses and Government to consider what more could be done in their communities to tackle the problem - from starting their own men's activity to simply making time to chat to those around them."

Blackerby said an easy way for churches to help these men could be to either invite them into church or have men from church "go and join the pub quiz team on a Friday night."

The commission was set up by Jo Cox, who was killed last year, and is being steered by a cross-bench partnership of MPs, along with the Cox family and other charities.

Click here to listen to Nathan Blackerby speaking with Premier's Craig Wakeling:

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