Lockdowns, loss of social life and restrictions on travel meant levels of loneliness in the UK have increased during the pandemic. 

Between April and May last year, 5 per cent of people said they felt lonely "often" or "always".

But during the winter months from October 2020 to February 2021, that proportion increased to 7.2 per cent of the adult population - representing about 3.7 million adults - according to data from the Office for National Statistics.

Sixteen to 24-year-olds were five times more likely to say they had felt lonely in the past seven days than 65 to 74-year-olds.

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In Oxford 7.5 per cent of people reported “often” or “always” feeling lonely whereas in South Oxfordshire it was four per cent and in West Oxfordshire 3.9 per cent.

Local authorities in countryside areas had a lower loneliness rate than urban, industrial, or other types of area and loneliness tended to be worse in areas with higher levels of unemployment.