Early in 2019, we began exploring the idea to raise awareness of loneliness and social isolation, whilst also raising funds for the work of Linking Lives UK. This turned into a campaign called ‘Loneliness Lock-In’ which was launched on 7th October 2019. The inspiration for this idea came from similar concepts in the field of homelessness in which people are invited to take part in overnight ‘sleep outs’ to gain a (limited) understanding living on the streets, whilst raising crucial funds for charities working to address this.
In the same way that such activities cannot provide a full awareness of life for those for whom homelessness is a daily challenge, we were also very aware that the Loneliness Lock-In could not by any means provide a full insight into loneliness for those dealing with its effects on a daily basis. We did, though, feel that even a limited amount of increased awareness would have its benefits for those taking part.
How does it work?
Participants are required to spend up to 24 hours on their own with no contact with other people and no phone calls (unless in an emergency). This includes limited access to gadgets (including wifi, laptops and tv). A resource pack is provided with ideas of activities to take on and information is also provided about ways to raise sponsorship for Linking Lives nationally and/ or for one of the participating local projects.
I personally took part in my challenge at the end of October from one lunchtime to the following lunchtime. My wife and two sons went away for two days leaving me with an empty house! I set myself a daily limit of one hour of television and also limited the amount of music and radio in the house, to increase the reality. I also didn’t go out or call my family (they were aware that I wouldn’t be in touch!). I ended up spending most of my time reading – a combination of books I had almost finished; less-often read books of the Bible; and also praying.
As highlighted earlier, my main reflection, was that a short term challenge such as this can, in no way reflect the experience for many people for whom this is daily reality. It can, though, help to give a partial understanding of the experience.
Interestingly, my immediate response at the start was to put a time schedule together for the 24 hours – I quickly recognised that I needed to know there was a plan!
The most significant thing that impacted me was the silence. I am used to our house being busy and full of the activity (and noise!) of family life. It made me understand for myself why television is main form of company for millions of people. My guess is that it is as much to provide background noise, as it is for the content of programming!
At one stage, the weather looked nice and sunny outside and I would normally decide to go for a walk around a nearby country park if there was time. However, as I wanted to make the challenge as close as possible to the circumstances of many people who are unable to go out, I decided to stay inside. I was aware, though, that this is not a choice for many people forced to remain indoors for a specific reason.
I also deliberately didn’t do any work during the 24 hours but I did end up ‘filling it’ with activities which, I recognise would – in reality – eventually run out for those in such circumstances.
In summary, I found the experience extremely valuable in enabling me to catch a glimpse of
How can you get involved?
There is still plenty of time for you to take part in the Loneliness Lock-In yourself, as the deadline is 30th November 2019. You can register at https://linkinglives.uk/loneliness-lock-in/ and (when you reach the relevant point in the process) select either the ‘National work’ or one of our local projects taking part in the campaign.
You will need to be aged 18 or over to participate and you will be required to choose a date for your challenge and you will also be able to download our Resource Pack.
If you are not able to be directly involved yourself, you can donate directly to the campaign by going to https://linkinglives.uk/loneliness-lock-in/
National Director – Linking Lives UK