Groups are popping up across Hampshire determined to help curb the impact of loneliness. 

Increasing the risk of stroke by 32% and cardiovascular disease by 29% (CDC), loneliness is an affliction declared by the WHO to be “a global health concern”, comparable to smoking and obesity.

Many young people, in particular those affected by the pandemic at a pivotal point in their social development, are fighting hard to stave off this symptom of the increasingly disconnected society in which we live. 

In the modern day, it is far too easy to fall down the slippery slope that is alienation.  A decent proportion of workers in the UK now work from home all or some of the week, school attendance rates are poor and approximately one in five 18-34 year-olds report having “one or fewer close friends”, triple the number in 2011/12.

Technology, as expected, is partly to blame. Although allowing many the ability to connect with friends from around the world, mobile phones allow people to duck out of new or uncertain social interactions with ease, driving disconnection. Within the digital world itself, users can easily become crowded with content, glorifying mental illness and promoting self-isolating ideologies.

In reaction to this internet-age illness, many new communities have popped up, using social media to create real-world groups. One of these is Portsmouth’s “Girls Who Walk”, made with the intention of creating spaces in which local women can create social connections and lasting friendships.

Going for a walk and talking to new people, seems so small, but the impact that building new connections can have on mental and physical health is profound. Every new step is a step against the spiral of isolation.

If walking isn’t your thing, or equally if you aren’t a girl, there are a myriad of different communities available within the Hampshire area. Whether it's Sport, Art, Fitness, Reading, Writing, Film or simply just talking, there is a space out there for you. 

Join the struggle against Isolation, and get involved in your local community today.

More information about Girls Who Walk Portsmouth can be found on their Instagram @girlswhowalkportsmouth. 

  • This article was written by  Francesca Hartley , from Peter Symonds College, as part of Newsquest's Young Reporter scheme.