Fiona Phillips spent five days isolated to find out what it’s like for older, lonely people(see results)

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Sometimes I feel an overwhelming need to be on my own, craving solitude rather than fearing it.Read Also: Here’s How Daddy Freeze,Davido and Others Reacted To Pastor Adeboye’s Quest For N1bn Donation(Video)

With a demanding work schedule, two teenage boys and the lion’s share of household chores to manage, life’s a never-ending treadmill.

So when asked if I’d try being lonely for five days – with no phone and no computer – it was an easy decision.

A nice holiday away from the madness? Yes, please!

Yet Britain is in the grip of a loneliness epidemic, according to older people’s charity The Silver Line, and it’s no holiday for those suffering.

This is my diary:


I arrive at my new home, a tiny flat in Hackney, East London.

It’s a bit on the chilly side – good job I packed lots of cosy jumpers and woolly socks.

I can almost hear the quietness. No one here but me.

I dump my suitcase in the bedroom and check out the tiny kitchenette. By 2pm I’ve done everything.

By everything, I mean I’ve unpacked my case.

What do I do now? Don’t fancy watching telly, otherwise I’ll have nothing to look forward to later. I’m not in the mood for reading, either.

I’d feel too guilty indulging myself when it’s early afternoon and I should be doing something useful. I go out to explore the local area.

I buy food for later, wander around, find a coffee shop and sit on my own wondering what the hell I’m going to do with the rest of the day.

I find myself checking my watch intermittently. The time’s going very slowly.

I walk back to my new home. An ice-cream van jangles into the road, mums grabbing excited kids’ hands as they run out of their houses.

I think of my boys when they were little and I was their world.

Think of my mum and her huge smile and how she loved us to desperation.

Feel an overwhelming guilt that she spent her last days in a care home. And died alone.

I check my watch again: 6pm. Oh, good, the news.

Half past six and I’m watching the news again, on the other side, and looking forward to Emmerdale.

This is going to be harder than I thought.

I think about my dad. I moved him to a flat nearer me when he had Alzheimer’s.

I visited when work and two young boys allowed, but mostly he was alone.

I buy a bottle of wine to cheer me up. Corrie’s on – like familiar friends who’ve followed me to my temporary home.


Wake up around 7am-ish. Roll over and instinctively check the other side of the bed.

I’m still alone. Deflated. A black cloud occupying part of my head.

I can’t believe I feel so despondent, so unimportant, so early on. What’s the point of getting up? What happened to the me who sometimes wishes the daily family duties would wash away and leave me untethered?

I’ve only been on my own for one day! I turn over, switch the radio on and doze… It’s 10.30am.

I’m wasting time, in the hope it’ll pass quickly.

I pull myself out of bed, wondering what my purpose is now.

I’m craving a coffee. Pull some clothes on, a smidgen of make-up, and off I go.

Everyone’s with someone. I feel sort of diminished. As if I don’t matter.

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