Social isolation is a growing problem in the UK. In the past, large family networks would support each other and close knit communities would look out for their friends and neighbours. Today, families are more likely to be spread out across the country, even across the world, than they once were. While it’s true that travel is quicker and easier, and social media makes it possible to stay in touch with those who are far away, without that strong sense of community and extended network close by, many people are left feeling isolated and alone.
Age UK says that more than 1 million older people in the UK may not speak to another person for a whole month. Isolation and loneliness isn’t confined to the elderly though. It can affect anyone. New mums, carers, the unemployed and children who may be experiencing bullying or adverse childhood experiences are just some examples. It’s a sad fact that we could all find ourselves in this position at some point in our lives.
Isolation can have a negative impact on mental health, leading to depression and anxiety and studies have shown that social isolation can have negative effects on physical health and even lead to early death due, in part, to people not accessing services.
Looking after others.
Many of us lead busy and fast paced lives, and it can be easy not to notice when there are people around us who may need help. An elderley neighbour, a child in the classroom, someone reaching out on social media. By being aware, and taking small steps to help, we could make a big difference to someone's life whether by offering a friendly face, an ear to listen or even introducing people to each other, or to services and groups they can access.
Looking out for ourselves
If you are feeling isolated, there are support networks out there who can help and steps you can take to try and make things easier:
- Are there groups in your community you can access? Utilise your local Family Information Service or library if you would like help finding out what is available in your area.
- Exercise is great for your mental and physical health and can help to give your confidence a boost.
- Take up a new hobby or learn a new skill. Many local colleges will offer community courses you could access.
- If you are able to look after a pet this is a great way of helping to ease loneliness and the responsibility of caring for a cat or a dog can be good for mental health.
- Most importantly - try to find ways of forming friendships and meaningful relationships. You can search our site for groups and activities in your area, such as the ones listed below.
Garden Quarter Support Group - Chester
Board Games Group - Chester
Cinema Club - Chester
Singing For Wellbeing - Chester
Lite Bites Lunch Club - Ellesmere Port
All About Women - Neston
New Beginnings - Winsford
Men in Sheds
Community Cinema - Neston
We would love you to keep in touch with us on social media and let us know if you try any of these suggestions. Or perhaps you would be willing to share your own experience of isolation. You can find us on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram - or email us at [email protected]