Statistics released on 18th November 2020 (Office for National Statistics) have revealed a huge 4.2 million Brits now say they feel lonely most or all the time (compared with 2.6 million before the pandemic)! This is one of the many heart-breaking side effects brought about through this year’s coronavirus pandemic – something that will have touched us all in various ways.
While we have probably all been bombarded with statistics this year regarding the coronavirus and its far-reaching implications, it’s worth taking a moment to really let this sink in. These statistics represent our neighbours, our friends, our family members, that old gentleman you passed in the supermarket, that young woman you smiled at in the street – maybe us ourselves. What a tremendous number of people to be facing this difficult time (and the upcoming festive season) feeling alone!
Although staying connected may seem more difficult than ever given the various restrictions on socialising across the UK, there are still ways we can make a difference in our day-to-day lives and remind those around us they are cared about, they matter, and they have not been forgotten.
Here are 5 ways to reach out to those around you this winter …
Send a letter or Christmas card
Formal letter writing may be a dying art in the age of emails and texts, but there is still something magical about receiving something handwritten through the post! Consider setting aside an afternoon or lunchtime to write a letter to someone you haven’t spoken to in a while to let them know you’re thinking of them. You could share some good news, an uplifting quote or bible verse, or even a joke to brighten their day.
Alternatively, with Christmas on the horizon it’s a great way to reach out to those around you and spread some festive cheer. Why not pick up an extra pack of cards while you’re buying your own to post to everyone on your street? Or you could contact your local church or charities to see if anyone is doing a Christmas card delivery for vulnerable people in your area in which you might be able to join.
Share a smile
It’s amazing the impact a smile can have on those around you, especially during these difficult times. Aim to give a simple smile (or wave or head nod, if you’re wearing a face mask!) to those you meet as you go about your day, and it could make all the difference. It may even be the only smile someone sees that day.
Plan a virtual meet-up
While we may not be able to meet up in real life with those around us, it’s easier than ever (thanks to the abundance of technology available) to plan a virtual date with friends, family members or anyone else you feel may benefit from a chat. It’s just like a real life meeting, only with the option of comfy pyjamas! Set aside some quality time and plan an activity you will really enjoy. This could be as simple as a chat and catch up, or may be a virtual quiz, cheese and wine evening, scripted murder mystery, or board game session (Battleships and Guess Who both work well, if you each have a board!). You could even send a box of goodies to your friend in preparation for your event.
Alternatively, for those without access to technology, a simple phone call can make all the difference to someone sat at home alone. You could also share a simple activity over the phone, such as a quiz, prayer session, or sharing music for example.
Share a skill
If you have a bit more time on your hands, why not consider sharing something special with someone else in a way that is unique to you and/or them? You could bake someone a box of cupcakes, paint someone a picture, or write someone a poem, for example. Remember it’s the thought that counts so it doesn’t have to perfect, but how amazing for someone to know you have spent precious time crafting something just for them!
Find a new friend
If you’re not aware of anyone around you who is feeling isolated but would love to help support someone who is, then we would love you to get involved with one of our local befriending schemes – or consider setting up your own!
The aim of Linking Lives UK is to tackle isolation and loneliness across the UK through organised befriending schemes, which include face-to-face befriending (where restrictions allow) and telephone befriending. We would love to help match you with a new friend you could talk to each week to help end their isolation, or to help you with setting up a scheme in your area. Find out more about this on our website or by sending us an email enquiry. We would love to hear from you!
By Hannah McLoughlin
Hannah is the coordinator of South Liverpool Linking Lives