Loneliness can affect anyone, regardless of age, circumstances and background, and can hit at any time. People may have been particularly aware of loneliness during the current coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic.
This year’s Loneliness Awareness Week campaign, which began yesterday (Monday), aims to empower everyone to understand loneliness one conversation at a time, so that people can help themselves and others to manage feelings of loneliness.
Due to the coronavirus emergency, instead of face-to-face events, the Marmalade Trust is hosting a virtual campaign called One Less Lonely Voice and is inviting people to join the conversation using the hashtag #LetsTalkLoneliness.
The campaign website offers a range of advice to tackle loneliness, such as ways to reach out to someone who might be feeling lonely, how to volunteer safely, joining an online group, and signposting to sources of support.
People who feel lonely are being encouraged to keep in touch with friends, family and neighbours, or to write letters and cards to those still isolating as lockdown measures ease to ensure they don’t feel forgotten.
Councillor Jasbir Jaspal, Cabinet Member for Public Health and Wellbeing at City of Wolverhampton Council, said: “Loneliness is something that can affect any of us at any time.
“We may all be feeling more isolated at present, from older people and those in vulnerable groups to younger people who may be feeling lonely because they are not meeting up with friends or teachers and feeling anxious about what the future may hold.
“During the current pandemic, many of us will have needed that little extra support and I am very proud of the work our services have been doing to reassure people and help them through this difficult time.
“Loneliness can have a significant effect on both our mental and physical health. It can be hard to admit we are lonely and need help, but I would encourage anyone feeling this way to contact someone who can understand and offer support.
“If you are worried about someone who is lonely, you can help by phoning them, smiling, waving or chatting from a safe distance, helping out through volunteering by picking up food or medicine, or by offering regular conversation to someone living alone.”
Since lockdown began, the council’s Community Support Team has arranged weekly wellbeing calls for vulnerable residents and has helped more than 500 people who have felt isolated so far.
The team is working with Age UK, Silver Line, Healthwatch Wolverhampton and volunteer organisations, as well as making calls themselves, to ensure people have felt reassured and thought about during lockdown.
Meanwhile, members of the council’s Carer Support Team have spoken to more than 730 carers since the beginning of lockdown. Carers are often isolated within their caring role, so staff are offering wellbeing calls.
Wolverhampton Voluntary Sector Council’s social prescribing service can also offer support with help to collect shopping, walk dogs, change hearing aid batteries and phone those who are on their own with no other support to have a friendly chat.
Anyone who would like some support is encouraged to contact the following:
- Wolverhampton Community Support Team on 01902 553445
- Wolverhampton Carer Support Team on 01902 553409
- Wolverhampton’s Social Prescribing Service on 07366 701877
- Compassionate Communities Befriending Helpline on 01902 774570
- Samaritans free call on 116 123 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
- Silverline, for people aged 55 and over, call 0800 4 70 80 90
- Serenity Counselling, telephone befriending, email email@example.com
The council’s Stay Safe, Be Kind campaign offers clear and simple advice about how people can help themselves, and how they can support others who may be particularly vulnerable at this time. For more information, please visit Stay Safe, Be Kind.
Loneliness Awareness Week is organised by the Marmalade Trust, please visit the website for more details.