Five-on-your-side is the magic number for a personal support network

But a third of Brits feel on their own

23 July 2012

  • 32% of Brits don’t feel they have a group of trusted people they can turn to for help in their everyday life
  • Men are twice more likely to feel they don’t have someone to support them (42%)
  • Men (11%) are more than twice as likely to feel they need career support as women (5%)
  • The younger you are, the more you feel like you have people “On Your Side”
  • People living in the South East feel more (73%) supported than any other region in England

New research from Nationwide Building Society reveals that despite the average Facebook user having 190 friends*, a third (32 per cent) of people in Britain feel they don’t have anyone on their side to support them. The poll also cites five as the ideal number of people we feel we need to support us.

Men are twice more likely (42 per cent) to feel alone when dealing with their daily lives, and people (73 per cent) living in the South East of England feel more supported than any other region in the UK. Age appears to affect how supported we feel too, with people over the age of 55 feeling they have less people on their side (40 per cent) than any other age group.

Almost half (46 per cent) say their friends are a major part of their needed support network outside their immediate family, one in six (15 per cent) confide in work colleagues and one in 20 (5 per cent) even rely on their boss for advice. The research showed men feel less secure in their career than women however, with one in 10 (11 per cent) looking for support in this area compared to just five per cent of women.

The research shows having someone to listen to your problems (23 per cent), provide emotional support (18 per cent) and ease the pressures of everyday life (18 per cent) are the main reasons we need help managing our lives.

The current economic climate is also preying on people’s minds, with money issues cited as one of the main reasons people feel the need to call on a support network. Almost a fifth (19 per cent) would like an expert on hand to help when choosing the right investment, and one in six (16 per cent) say they need someone to help them save money. 15 per cent of British adults would like someone to help them get rid of their debt.

Susan Quilliam, relationship psychologist, commented: “No matter how strong and independent people are, we all need someone to lean on at key stages in life. Whether it’s an ear to listen, a wise head to provide some advice, a shoulder to cry on or someone who is completely removed from the situation you are in, strong support networks are essential to help alleviate the pressures of life, decision-making and ultimately, stop people from feeling like they are on their own.

It might be a life-changing decision, a topic you find hard to talk about, an everyday rant or a light-hearted chat about something you consider trivial - it doesn’t matter. Talking to different people and seeking advice can provide fresh perspectives, impartial points-of-view and help you to think more laterally about a subject or stage in your life. No-one should or can make decisions for you but the knowledge that someone else is on your side can make all the difference when it comes to our wellbeing.”

Andy McQueen, Marketing Director at Nationwide, said: “When times are good, people tend to worry about whether they are on the right career path, and whether they are achieving long-held ambitions. But when times are bad – such as when the economy is suffering – people are forced to worry about everyday essentials, such as whether they can cover their bills. We all experience financial crunch points at some point as our research shows. When you have money problems, this can be one of the times you most need an expert on your side - it can mean a lot less worry in the long run.”

Nationwide’s ‘On Your Side' campaign aims to help its customers make the most of their money by prioritising their financial needs. Services such as Savings Promises, the pledge to ensure transparency and long-term good value rates, and product innovations like the 'Save to Buy' savings account that rewards Nationwide customers with 95% loan to value mortgages for first time buyers, have all been created to enable people to manage their banking easily so they can maximise finances throughout all stages of life.


For further information, case studies and spokespeople, please contact Emma Russell (tel: 0207 009 3145) or Laura Gordon (tel: 0207 009 3159) at 3 Monkeys Communications or email

Notes to Editors:


*According to official Facebook data:;txt

**Statistics should be accredited to the research, which polled a total of 1,047 UK adults online in June 2012. The research was carried out by Atomik Research on behalf of Nationwide.

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