One-in-five of us have no close friends, creating a wellbeing crisis
The research is startling: people with close friendships have lower levels of anxiety and depression, increased levels of meaning and happiness, decreased risks of dementia, Alzheimer’s disease and heart attack, and around seven years longer lifespans. All those coffee dates, weekend hikes and late-night chats help us face our adversities, discover who we are, and choose our best paths in life.
And yet many of us have no close friends.
- 20% adults have no close friends
- Up to 10% have no friends at all
- Number without friends has quadrupled since 1990
- 25% have no one to turn to
- 30% not part of a friendship group
- 10% Italian adults have no friends
- Up to 30% of Dutch and 25% Swedes frequently lonely
The Forgotten Bond
Why is adult friendship so difficult today? The reasons are many, from the decline of community gatherings to simple busyness and frequent house moves. Friend-making is a skill no one teaches us, leading many to leave it to chance. And for too long we have overlooked friendship for romance. Undervalued in popular culture, pushed to the margins by work and family demands, weakened by a global pandemic and growing social polarisation, it’s time to get intentional about this foundational bond.
Friendship Lab empowers men and women with the wisdom and skills to make their friendships thrive
We do this through evidence-based courses, inspiring podcast and media campaigns, research projects, arts and education collaborations and more, to help us all enjoy the wellbeing benefits friendship brings and see loneliness reduced in society.
We envision a day when every person has at least three ‘2am friends’
A 2am friend is someone we can talk to, depend on, grow with, and enjoy—someone we can call at 2am when everything has gone wrong.
Founder & CEO: Sheridan Voysey is an author, speaker, and broadcaster. He is a presenter of Pause for Thought on BBC Radio 2’s Zoe Ball Breakfast Show, and was the creative lead on Radio 2’s Friendship Season. The author of eight books, Sheridan has featured in numerous TV, radio and print outlets worldwide, including BBC News, the ABC, and The Times.
Board of Trustees
- Michael Poulton, Finance and Administration Executive
- Lois Fulton, Strategic Change Consultant, Lois Fulton Consulting
- Andrew Clark, Senior Operations Manager, Oxfordshire Community Churches
- Sheridan Voysey, Founder, Friendship Lab
Board of Reference
- Sophie Duncan, Co-Director, National Co-ordinating Centre for Public Engagement
- Dr Carol Brown, Senior Lecturer in Psychology and Education, Oxford Brookes University
- Dr Simon Jackman, Senior Innovation Fellow, University of Oxford
- David McIlroy, Barrister at Law, Forum Chambers