Taking the one out of loneliness
The Loneliness Campaign North Yorkshire’s project development officer, Colleen Allwood, tells us about Loneliness Awareness Week 15 – 19 June 2020: ‘Taking the one out of loneliness’
Loneliness Awareness Week is almost upon us, but what it is and why should we bother with it? Hosted by the Marmalade Trust in conjunction with The Great Get Together and Jo Cox Foundation, the campaign started in 2016, aiming to raise awareness of loneliness and encouraging people to speak about it openly. This year, due to Covid-19 the campaign has gone virtual, taking the ‘one’ out of loneliness by asking people to talk about it one conversation at a time; conversations which can build understanding, create connectedness and reduce the stigma surrounding loneliness.
According to a recent report from the Office of National Statistics, during the first month of lockdown the equivalent of 7.4 million (30.9%) people said that their wellbeing had been affected through feeling lonely. Those who experienced loneliness were ‘more likely than others to be struggling to find things to help them cope and were also less likely to feel they had support networks to fall back on.’ With many working-aged adults furloughed or working from home, those who lived alone or were shielding for health reasons were more likely to report loneliness, have lower personal wellbeing scores and experience higher anxiety levels. This is not normally a group associated with loneliness, and it has perhaps made society take a step back and re-examine loneliness and what it means for us a whole.
Loneliness is certainly not something new, with 6% of the population of Great Britain saying pre-lockdown that they were chronically lonely, often or always experiencing loneliness. And whilst North Yorkshire has a reputation for resilience, relatively high levels of happiness and good quality of living compared to many other places in England, that does not mean that pre Covid-19, the county was as connected and resourceful as it might have been. Over the past year The Loneliness Campaign North Yorkshire has been working hard to create a strategic framework to inspire everyone to tackle issues of loneliness for the long-term, preventing and alleviating the feelings of loneliness, and overcoming barriers that cause social isolation.
Building stronger, more connected communities with kindness one conversation at a time will tackle loneliness and isolation. It will result in better resilience and greater wellbeing within the communities and neighbourhoods that we live in. We have seen many examples of great kindness, neighbourliness and resourcefulness in the past few months with many new Covid-19 networks springing up and many people volunteering to support others in their community and neighbourhood. Let us keep that conversation going, start looking to the future and become more aware of loneliness within our own communities one conversation at a time.
 (Office for National Statistics, 2020)