Mention loneliness and most people, whatever their age, seem to think about older people. We have, it seems, an archetypal image of someone frail, elderly, scared to go out and living – perhaps struggling – on their own: a lonely old person.
When there are academic and policy discussions on race and cohesion, the views of white working class communities seem to be pretty low on the agenda. How can this be right? I grew up in an area like this, and I think the people who live there deserve better.
You are more likely to suffer from loneliness at certain times of the day, at certain times of year and at particular stages in your life. The surroundings you live in and your sense of community can also contribute.
Have you ever felt lonely on a Saturday evening or Bank Holiday weekend and thought the whole world was having a good time except you? Have you ever felt that the people around just don’t get you and that you can't connect? We all feel like this at times and often it’s fleeting; it passes and we accept it as part of life.
We already know that, for deprived communities, recession bites deeper and lasts longer. And we also know that about 5% of poor communities – come boom or bust – never manage to fight free of recession. At the time of writing, cuts are being reported from deprived neighbourhoods, not just of mainstream services but also of schemes delivered via voluntary organisations – keep fit, healthy eating – that might be expected to help such communities weather a recession.
I doubt whether 'timidity' or 'reticence' are the first words on the lips of many people who have followed the coalition government’s announcements since the general election. Simplification of the benefits system is a case in point. On localism too, where the level of ambition and action so far could not really be described as timid.