Actress Joanna Lumley has called on people to “look out for widows”. The star, 71, took part in an event in London to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the Loomba Foundation, an UN-accredited global charity for widows.

According to the report, there were about 22 million British adults aged 35 and over fear loneliness.

People also worry about not having enough emotional or financial support if they are to face life alone, it said.

Lumley said that widows in some parts of the world had “the most wretched lives” and were “almost treated as non-people”. Widows in south-east Asia and sub-Saharan Africa can face abandonment.

Speaking at an interview in ITV, she said “isn’t it horrifying?”

Widows in sub-Saharan Africa and Asia face worse situations, but widows here are also suffering, she said in the interview.

“We’ve got to become extra good neighbours. 35 is a really young age to start fearing loneliness. We have to fight it. Put your arms around people, knock on the door, say are you well, can I come in and have a cup of tea?”

Joanna Lumley with Cherie Blair CBE QC, President of the Loomba Foundation at the launch of a blimp outside the House of Lords, to celebrate International Widows Day and the Loomba

Findings from the World Widows Report 2016 commissioned by the Loomba Foundation

  • • Loneliness among widows have been brought into sharp focus, stating it leaves damaging effect on their health
  • • The report highlights how much the fear of isolation plays in our minds
  • • 22 million over 35s fear facing loneliness in old age
  • • 9.5 million fear they won’t be able to support themselves if left alone
  • • 14 million fear they will not get enough emotional support
  • • Men are more likely to worry than women

Cherie Blair CBE QC, President and Actress Joanna Lumley outside the HOL

Speaking before Friday’s International Widows Day, Lumley said: “22 million people in Britain fear loneliness. We want people not to feel lonely.

“Look out for widows, take care of them, make sure they are included and you keep in touch with them. Remember the people who need our help.”

International Widows Day, to raise awareness and action to help widows and their children around the world, was set up by the Loomba Foundation in 2005 and recognised by the UN in 2010.

Joanna Lumley was born in Kashmir, India and has a strong connect with India. She has been a patron with the Loomba Foundation from the start. She was moved by Lord Loomba’s narration of the sufferings his mother faced as a young widow and the horrifying treatment faced by millions of others across the world, joined the foundation.