Facebook friends galore, but who can we turn to?

New research from Nationwide Building Society reveals that despite the average Facebook user having 190 friends, almost a third (28 per cent) of people in the South East feel they don’t have anyone on their side to support them.

The poll also cites five as the ideal number of people those in the area feel they need to help them out when things get tough.

Men are twice more likely (42 per cent) to feel alone when dealing with their daily lives, and 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.

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Over one in eight (83 per cent) of people in the South East say their friends are a major part of their needed support network outside their immediate family, whilst one in 20 (five per cent) confide in work colleagues. Across the UK, 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 offer advice (20 per cent), offer emotional support (26%) and ease the pressures of everyday life (17 per cent) are the main reasons those in the South East need help managing their 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.

Over a quarter (26 per cent) in the South East would like an expert on hand to help when choosing the right investment, whilst a quarter (24 per cent) say they need someone to help them save money. 16 per cent of people in the South East would like someone to help them get rid of their debt.

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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.”