TLC Research Findings

We carried out a series of research studies with the support of Nottingham Trent University as a part of the TLIN Collaborative.

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We mapped Nottinghamshire based services addressing loneliness and/or providing social connection. This mapping identified 213 services, 32% of which had reducing loneliness as an explicitly stated aim. These services varied greatly in terms of size, resource and target group (for example young people, those suffering from specific conditions or mental health issues), with services most commonly supporting multiple groups and older adults.


Service Experiences

10% of services within the database were surveyed to assess needs and experiences. Results showed that providing support, companionship and participation in collective activities were the most common service aims. Continuing service provision flexibly during the Coronavirus pandemic posed challenges for services, particularly around digital exclusion. A common challenge faced by services was a shortage of staff and flexible funding to assist with daily running costs. Additionally, services felt more needed to be done to reach those most in need that may experience barriers to service engagement, including the perceived stigma surrounding loneliness.


Loneliness and Wellbeing

A survey of Nottinghamshire residents found the expected relationships between loneliness and poorer physical and mental health, varying on the basis of discrimination, stigma, marginalisation and gender. Despite remaining the most digitally connected, younger adults reported greater loneliness, worse mental health, and the most barriers to accessing services compared to other age groups. Conversely, older adults perceived fewer barriers, but felt that fewer services were available to them. Importantly, a feeling of meaningful social connection within the community, families and chosen social groups leading to increased social support can be key in tackling loneliness and improving health and wellbeing. Our results showed that community connection measured at multiple timepoints provided long-lasting benefits for wellbeing.


Experience of Loneliness

Interviews with 30 individuals who had engaged with services for reducing loneliness or increasing social connection revealed the complex nature of loneliness and its impacts, with psychological, behavioural and physical health effects. Loneliness was associated with a loss of meaningful social connection, and often compounded by a range of other life events and factors. Participants felt that services for social connection needed to be better advertised, and procedures for finding and accessing services streamlined. Support attending the service for the first time was also key, as was being appropriately welcomed and inducted into the service. Where participants felt appropriately included, a bond and sense of commonality formed with the service providers and other service members. This sense of meaningful connection reduced loneliness and had significant positive effects on health and wellbeing. Increases in confidence had knock on effects, improving the quantity and quality of participants’ social connections outside of the service. However, where participants felt that they were not properly included or welcomed into services, a sense of connection often failed to form and could in fact worsen feelings of loneliness and isolation.


Executive Summary

You can download and read the TLC Executive Summary here:



Full research report

You can download and read the full research findings here:


Research Findings Infographic