11 Dec Seven ways to help combat loneliness this Christmas
via Anna Turns
With limits on social gatherings in place this December, more people than usual may find themselves feeling lonely during the festive period. This is what you can do to help yourself and others feel less isolated
It is the time of year when people are normally getting into the Christmas spirit. But with limits on gatherings in place across the UK and other nations, the countdown to the festive period has been somewhat muted this year.
According to the Campaign to End Loneliness, there were nine million lonely people in the UK before the pandemic – a figure that is likely to have risen significantly since restrictions came in.
Fortunately, there are many ways we can connect with each other over the coming weeks. From writing to strangers to volunteering for a charity, here’s how you can help combat loneliness this Christmas.
1. Write to a stranger
The mental health support organisation WarriorKind is connecting lonely individuals via the written word this winter, encouraging participants to share some of the challenges they have faced during lockdown as well as their tips for staying resilient.
WarriorKind connects lonely individuals ‘the old fashioned way’ via the written word. Image: Green Chameleon
2. Phone a (new) friend
The Silver Line operates the UK’s only confidential telephone befriending service. It helps connects old people who are experiencing loneliness with volunteers willing to give up their time for a friendly natter.
“The phone is almost universal, personal and a relatively inexpensive way to create social connection,” explains Robin Hewings, director of campaigns, policy and research at the Campaign to End Loneliness. “It’s a two-way thing, but not symmetrical so often one party is much more vulnerable.”
Other organisations also offer befriending opportunities. Visit Befriending Networks for more information.
3. Become a volunteer
The volunteering landscape looks very different this Christmas due to the pandemic, but there are still many opportunities to help others. The homeless charity Crisis is looking for volunteers to, among other things, lead online activities, make calls to members and even perform live music over Zoom.
There are also nationwide volunteering opportunities with Meals on Wheels, which delivers dishes to people who are unable to purchase or prepare their own meals.
“People who work as volunteers always say to me that they do two things at once,” says Hewings. “They do something practical, but also help people connect and enrich relationships. Being part of the social world around someone can be really valuable.”
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