What we can do to help alleviate loneliness and isolation?

Being lonely isn’t just a feeling. It is proven to be bad for you. Research shows loneliness is equivalent to smoking 15 cigarettes a day or being an alcoholic, that it’s as harmful as not exercising and twice as harmful as being obese.

Loneliness affects us all, it’s not just older people; the Royal Voluntary Society found men reported that the age of 38 was the time at which they had the fewest friends and a report by the  Co-op has found that loneliness among people in work costs employers £2.5bn a year.

Loneliness doesn’t discriminate, we can all experience it whatever our age.

So connecting with people, volunteering our time and contributing in our local communities is a win win.  Giving and connecting with each other supports all our wellbeing and helps make our local communities places of support.

I want to live in a world where I feel connected and supported and have reciprocal relationships at every stage of my life.

If the time comes when I need to move to a care home, the desire for relationships doesn’t change.  I want to be supported in a way that makes sense to me, live in a place full of love and laughter, stay connected to people and be supported to stay involved with the things that matter to me.  However great the support from the care home is, I still want to have those connections and shared interests with people who aren’t paid to be with me but value the time we spend together.

Am I naïve in that expectation?  I like to think not; I think we all want to feel connected, are concerned about people being lonely and isolated, that we all have something to offer and that contributing a small amount of time is great for everyone involved.  When I’ve asked for help, people are willing and keen to lend a hand, take pleasure in what they can contribute and feel appreciated.

Often the difficult bit is knowing what we can do that makes a difference and how to go about it.

Community Circles are working with care homes across Wigan and Leigh, building a circle of support around people so that they can stay connected to what matters to them.  The Circle is made up of the person, with their family and friends who meet together once a month to have conversations and share ideas about what they can do that makes a positive difference in the person’s life.  Each Circle is supported by a volunteer facilitator, someone who can contribute a couple of hours a month to come to each Circle meeting to help the conversation move to action.  Each Circle has a purpose; Margaret’s Circle is helping her stay connected to her love of rugby, Ray’s Circle is helping him to find people he can enjoy a game of cards with and Irene wants to have the opportunity to share stories and reminisce about her time in the land army.

Do you have a hobby, particular interest or time to spare for a natter?

Do you want to help be a part of making a community we all want to live in?

Volunteers are matched to people depending on location, availability and shared interests and is a really flexible role that can fit around other commitments.

Interested?  Give Cath a call on 07979331745 or drop me an email cath@community-circles.co.uk