Helping people experiencing loneliness
27 May 2020, 18:32 | Updated: 1 June 2020, 08:12
It has been reported that almost a quarter of adults in the UK have felt lonely since living in lockdown. Loneliness can make a person feel invisible or forgotten and it is a key risk factor for developing or worsening mental health problems.
Among those hit hardest are older people who live alone and have few family members or friends to talk to. All too often, loneliness is the reality for older people and nearly half of older people say the TV is their main source of company.
Underlying health conditions and mobility issues have left many elderly people trapped in their homes.
While technology can help, elderly people are less confident using technology which has made it even more difficult for them to have any kind of human interaction.
Right now, there are hundreds of thousands of older people in the UK who will spend today and the rest of this week alone, with no one to share even a few simple words with.
Radio X's charity, Global’s Make Some Noise is supporting charities that are working to address this, including Re-engage which provides a regular phone call service to anyone over the age of 75 who lives alone and is feeling isolated.
Through its Call Companions service, Re-engage match elderly people with a volunteer who calls them every week or two for a chat – this can be the only contact an elderly person has with someone that week.
These calls give them a lifeline of friendship and, vitally, something to look forward to.
Having been desperately lonely for years, Patrick*, 78 describes how the lockdown is making life harder.
“Years ago, my wife and I bought a bungalow to retire in. When she died, I would spend my days going from room to room looking for her, so eventually I moved and gave myself a new routine - just me and my bus pass. Now that’s all gone.
My bus pass is like my golden ticket. It’s the best thing they ever gave us. Before the lockdown, I used to be out from 9am-4pm, especially if the weather was good. Sometimes there are people to chat to, sometimes there aren’t.
But now it’s a very strange and worrying time. I still get up at the same time, look for odd jobs to do, tend to my garden, but there’s only so many pairs of shoes to shine. I always keep the radio on to hear another voice.
This week was the first time I’ve been out in weeks and it was scary.
Before all this, I’d say I was quiet, but I just wanted a friend. Someone to have a meal with, go to the pictures with. Now I don’t know what’s going to happen.
At least for now, the charity’s sorting me out with a call companion. I think a weekly phone call will help a lot.”
*Name has been changed to protect this person’s identity.
You can help those hit hardest by coronavirus in our communities.