You are probably well aware that loneliness has been on the rise in recent years and no doubt there’s someone in your life that would benefit from more social contact.
But what you might not realise, is that there are some really simple ways that you can help reduce loneliness. Either by supporting, volunteering or referring an older person to a charity that can help.
Our upcoming event, co-hosted by the Network of Wellbeing (NOW), Communities Addressing Loneliness and Building Wellbeing on Tuesday 14 June at 7.30pm, part of Loneliness Awareness Week and the Month of Community 2022, will provide a good dose of inspiration.
Our friends at Re-engage work with people aged 75 and over who live alone; those who are especially vulnerable to loneliness.
Their programmes have a remarkable impact on the happiness and wellbeing of those who they support, with 93% saying that joining Re-engage has had a positive impact on their lives. Which makes them wonderfully placed to share advice on how you can make a difference this Loneliness Awareness Week.
It all starts with a cup of tea
"At Re-engage, we organise monthly tea parties for older people in local communities across the UK, with transport provided. These monthly meet ups are a great chance for a change of scenery and some chat and laughter with friends – of all ages. It’s amazing how something as simple as having a cup of tea with others can have such a profound impact on how we feel.
Being lonely is not only miserable, it can also have a very damaging effect on physical health and mental wellbeing. Lonely people with poor social connections are more likely to suffer from dementia, heart disease and depression.
As well as tea parties, we also run a Call Companions telephone befriending service, to help ensure older people remain connected to the outside world and have a little extra company on a regular basis.
Connecting with a Big Jubilee Lunch
Re-engage is delighted to have supported The Big Jubilee Lunch this year as it’s a lovely celebratory event for our older people to part of. One of our social groups in Northwich, Cheshire, made their usual monthly tea party an extra special occassion to mark the Jubilee, with guests and the venue dressed in red, white and blue - and all treated like Royalty by Host Beth!
Everyone that attended was asked to describe how they felt about the tea party in one or two words, the best answer being ”supercalifragilisticexpialidocious”, although volunteers did have to look up the spelling!
Group coordinator, Bev Owen, said:
“It was a truly magical afternoon with guests reminiscing and sharing their memories of the Coronation and past Jubilees. We had so many comments from the guests saying how much they’d enjoyed the afternoon and it was made extra special by being able to share it with friends they’ve made through the tea parties.”
How can I help fight loneliness?
At Re-engage we are positive about older age and committed to fighting loneliness so that people can have social lives and friendship groups however old they are.
Our volunteers work together to create better communities and help to enrich the lives of lonely and isolated older people by giving them something to look forward to.
We would love you to be part of the team that’s making life better for the oldest people in our communities and we have volunteer roles right across the UK - with different time commitments, but all are hugely rewarding. They range from hosting an event in your home once or twice a year to making fortnightly, half hour calls to lonely and isolated older people. All we ask is that you are 18 years or older and that you can commit to at least a year of volunteering.
As a volunteer you will: give your time to listen to the older person; build a friendship that helps the older person feel less lonely and more connected; and help improve the older person’s wellbeing and build their self-esteem. We’ll provide all the training you need and have a wealth of support available including tips on how to make a success of your volunteering so that you get the most from it.
Our volunteers make cherished relationships and 90% of them say that volunteering with us has had a positive impact on their lives."
Four ways to get involved this Loneliness Awareness Week:
- Get inspired! Join our online event, co-hosted by the Network of Wellbeing (NOW), Communities Addressing Loneliness and Building Wellbeing on Tuesday 14 June at 7.30pm. Kim Leadbeater MP, Linzi Canson (Empowerment Charity) and Nuala Enniskillen (Positive Postbox) will be speaking. Register here.
- Become a Re-engage Volunteer; they have a range of roles right across the UK, with different time commitments
- Donate to Re-engage
- Refer an older person that could do with some social contact
There are over 2.3 million people aged 75 and over living alone in the UK, an increase of almost a quarter over the past 20 years, but there are simple ways we can ALL help.