Many of us have felt lonely and socially isolated this year. Almost half of the UK population said that they experience feelings of loneliness at times. The Covid-19 pandemic has made it much harder for us to maintain important social connections, with some people losing all forms of physical contact with others. Even with social distancing measures gradually easing, many people across all age groups continue to struggle with loneliness and isolation.
During Loneliness Awareness Week (14-18 June), we want to talk about loneliness and remind you that we have different types of support which can give you a space to talk and help build up social connections.
Over the course of the Covid-19 pandemic, we have worked with people experiencing loneliness through our Listen and Connect and Social Prescribing services. Many people we have spoken with have felt very lonely, isolated, or have a health vulnerability which meant they were less able to leave their home.
David (72) lives alone and had been feeling low in mood, due to feeling isolated but also due to experiencing financial hardship and difficulties paying household bills. These issues were compounded by the fact that David has difficulty reading and writing – David used to spend more time out and about, but because of lockdown, he had to spend his time inside, by himself.
“I used to walk around a lot, but as I say this lockdown you can’t do anything. I just watch tv with my cat.”
David spoke to the council for advice about what he was going through, and they put him in touch with Listen and Connect.
We started speaking to David back in August 2020 and were able to provide him with food and clothing parcels from our organisation. We also connected him to other organisations that could help his situation, including an adult education course to develop his reading and writing, and the Witton Centre for help with his gas and electric.
At Christmas, we gave David a call to see how he was doing and arranged for him to receive one of our Christmas Treat Bags – thoughtful gifts made up of donations. In his Christmas Treat Bag, David received a hot water bottle that has provided him some comfort during the colder months.
“She sent me a Christmas treat bag. She sent me a hot water bottle through, my little hot water bottle is in a felt bag. I take that to bed every night and it keeps warm at night and day.”
David said he was ‘overwhelmed with what you’ve done for me’. But the most important thing for David was having someone friendly to chat to and someone who was there for him during these difficult times.
“They listen, they care, and they’re understanding. There was somebody at the other end of the phone if I wanted it, if I was getting depressed with it. There was somebody to help me with food. There was somebody always there for me.”
Feeling lonely can be a sign that we need more social contact, such as a regular phone call, being part of online group, or meeting others in-person. Listen and Connect is a telephone support service, which provides a safe space for people to talk about what is important to them. The service also offers physical and social opportunities, such as Listen and Lunches and walking groups. To find out more, visit: https://theaws.co.uk/listen-connect/.