Loneliness can be difficult to talk about. It’s hard for people to say sometimes that they feel lonely. It shouldn’t be, but it is. The last few weeks in lockdown will potentially have highlighted to some of us what loneliness is who haven’t previously given it a second thought. There are others who may well have felt lonely even before lockdown.
Writing something to share that dwelled on all the effects loneliness can have on our mental and physical wellbeing didn’t feel quite appropriate. What so many Mutual Aid Groups, volunteers and neighbours have been doing over the last few weeks is a demonstration that loneliness and isolation is being tackled, that we are aware and collectively we are doing something about it.
Tackling loneliness may have been disguised as the shopping you’ve done for a vulnerable neighbour, or picking up that prescription from the pharmacy, because the other part of that action is the conversation you’ve had with those people and making sure they’re okay. Small human interactions can make all the difference.
How many of you have seen or helped out celebrating an older person’s birthday who lives on your street? How many of you have clapped for carers on a Thursday evening, then exchanged words with neighbours you haven’t really talked to before?
The actions of groups, volunteers, friends and neighbours have helped to reduce isolation, and have demonstrated the caring nature of people and communities. Together we’ve done that.
Yet there is still a need for vigilance and awareness beyond our own neighbourhoods. There is always potential for individuals to fall through the gaps, but there are also local volunteer befriending services who do amazing work to catch those people.
The challenge for us all will be to maintain our neighbourliness beyond lockdown and to keep talking to each other, to keep visiting those who may be more vulnerable, whether that’s an older person or someone who you know that isn’t as socially mobile as they would like to be.
You might have been inspired yourself to sign up to be a volunteer at the befriending service, or know someone who you think might want to do that. We should all encourage that as an option. But we should all keep doing what we’re doing.
If you want to read more about the Befriending Partnership in Kirklees, read our blog:
If you are interested in being a Telephone Befriender with full training and support please email: firstname.lastname@example.org
If you, or someone you know, would like telephone befriending support please let us know via our Covid-19 Community Response online form, or call our Freephone helpline: 0800 4561114.
Loneliness Awareness Week is about encouraging people to speak about it openly and understand loneliness, one conversation at a time.
There are five organisations involved in the wider Befriending Partnership in Kirklees.