Reaching out in a time of crisis
Sadly, there is still a stigma attached to feeling lonely, even though when the No.1 magazine asked their readers in their latest loneliness survey, 95% of respondents said that they have felt lonely, including 38% who said they have felt lonely ‘in the past week’. This survey, let’s add, was taken before the lockdown even started. What would the results look like now?
‘I think the lockdown affects everyone differently, but what’s sure is that it takes its toll on everyone’s mental health’ says Shonagh Hendry, one of our Volunteer Coordinators. ‘During my work, I talk to so many volunteers and befriendees, and they keep saying the same: they are anxious, because they have no idea when they are going to see their family, leave the house again, or have their carers back. We even have clients whose spouse is in a care home, so they have not seen each other for months.’
‘We have been overwhelmed with the number of volunteer applications this past couple of months. I think people really want to help each other, but they are also realising that volunteering has enormous benefits for their own mental health as well, because at the end of the day, befriending is about two people having a connection, regardless of age’ explains Audrey Mutongi, founder and CEO of The No.1 Befriending Agency.
Our shopping and prescription pick-up service is designed to help ease the practical problems of lockdown for those who are most vulnerable and isolated. If you know anybody who would benefit from this service, please contact Eshmael at firstname.lastname@example.org for a referral form. Our telephone befriending service is for those older adults who live alone and who have been struggling with loneliness. Please contact our office at email@example.com or give us a call at 0141 465 6998 to be sent a referral form.
The wider problem of loneliness however, can only be tackled through conversations, reaching out and making connections. Let’s hope that more and more of us will feel able to say ‘I am lonely’ and also look around ourselves and see who it is who might be isolated, and reach out to them.