An increasing number of people are living on their own nowadays. The reasons are many. Divorce, separation, death of a spouse, never finding just that one to make life more complete, other responsibilities – the list is long. Never doubt that loneliness is real. Never doubt that loneliness can be a killer when there is a feeling that nobody actually cares. Sometimes this is probably true, which is hardly to the credit of a modern society where selfishness obtains all too often. But not always true. There are those who care, and are willing, even eager, to help out and keep company to those in need. Taking an elderly person to the shops once a week can be a life saver, even a sanity saver, for some. Calling in to a neighbour from time to time, just to check that all is well can be just as welcomed. Nor is this a problem for the elderly only. Loneliness affects younger people too, younger people who feel that they have no real social contact at all. Night school, a fitness gym, discussion groups and many others are all very well in their own way, but a lonely person can be just as lonely in a crowd.

Then there is another type of person, on their own for much of the week, perhaps seeing and talking only to shop assistants, and for whom loneliness is not an absolute, for whom other people are not necessary to feel that they are fulfilled in life, which is not to say that others are abhorrent or a nuisance, simply not essential. Full marks then, for those who would help, but hopefully, the need for privacy and solitude for the truly solitary (who are quite happy to be so) will be respected. Wanting to be on one’s own is not an illness, though the pressure to ‘join in and be sociable’ often makes it seem so.