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Loneliness is a very topical issue at the moment and a lot of people are thinking, “What can I do to help?”

Our Prime Minister appointed a Minister of Loneliness in January 2018 to help combat this issue. In Suffolk alone, there are 40,000 people who feel lonely (Mike Hennessey, Suffolk Country Council Director of Adults and Community Services) , apparently there is no demographic group immune to this feeling; so our children, teenagers, parents, neighbours, friends, grand-parents

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and great grandparents are vulnerable to the emotion.

The health implications from loneliness and social isolation are harmful to health: research shows it can be as damaging as smoking 15 cigarettes a day (Holt-Linstad, 2015) and have as big of an impact on our health as obesity.

Things need to change.

If you think you would like to help, then keep reading to learn about all the great ways you can get involved.

There are so many positives things which are going on around the country to help combat loneliness:
Compassionate Frome – launched by Dr Helen Kingston. It’s an incredible scheme that helps identify patients who are lonely and connect them with support in the community. This leads to a positive impact on their health. For every £1 invested, the NHS saves £6.
Age UK – have a great number of National campaigns
Good Gym – a run to see an isolated older person
MUM – Meet Up Mondays – a group for people who are struggling with isolation in a welcoming environment for tea – creating new friendships, support networks and more. A great deal of these are now popping up in and around Suffolk!

What can you do to make a difference?

• Go and visit friends, family, neighbours or anyone you know who lives alone. Think of an excuse to pop round and say hello.
• Turn off your TV and talk over dinner.
• Pick up the phone and speak to friends and family who are far away.
• Make sure you have ‘time off’ from social media.
• Help build awareness – #EndLoneliness
• Join a Befriending scheme

Being in the care industry, loneliness is an area which sometimes people are consumed by, but on the other hand some people are oblivious to the negative impact loneliness (as the cause) is having on their life.

If you are organising a care package for your relatives:
• Do not forget to factor in time for socialising when organising their home care, especially if you are unable to visit regularly.
• Look into the above options as well as other schemes available in your local area to see if your relative would benefit from being involved.

I am extremely excited to see all the positive schemes and support systems which will be created, developed and implemented over the next few years and I hope to be a part of these changes within my local community and family. I have plenty of awareness on this subject and for me it’s about prioritising making time to ensure I help look after those around me who may be deemed as lonely. I drop in and see my Nanna once week before work and ensure I make time at the weekend to do a longer visit. If I can’t make it, I speak with my family to make sure others can.

Think about what little change in your life can make a huge difference in someone else’s, but most importantly, do something about it.

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