In an era of technological ‘connectivity’ like none before, reports of loneliness and social isolation are, surprisingly, soaring.
Social isolation affects people of all ages and of all abilities, not just older people and those with disability and brings with it both poor mental and physical health. (Campaign to End Loneliness – the facts on loneliness)
This is something, as a working woman of 50, I have had experience of myself. Months of orthopaedic difficulties left me just able to hobble into the office but beyond that my life shrunk to ordering online shopping, missing out on most social engagements and sitting at home, leg elevated, TV gorging and going utterly stir crazy. My kids had left home, good friends would pop round from time to time but still endless evenings and weekends blurred over the months as so many of them were spent utterly alone.
It was this experience that really started me thinking about loneliness. I had but a taste of it and it was bitter. For me this experience went on for several months but there was always going to be recovery and a light at the end of the tunnel. I realised that for many people this just isn’t the case and for a myriad of reasons their isolation may be life-long. What could I do about this in my own small way?
Fiona, befriending volunteer
She values the time I spend with her as much as I do her company and rich life stories.
When firmly back on my feet, I researched local befriending projects and came across Together Co, a wonderful local charity focusing on supporting those experiencing loneliness and social isolation, no matter what the reason.
So, at the beginning of 2018 I became a volunteer with Together Co Befriending and ever since have been paying weekly visits to a lovely lady (just turned 94) who is pretty much a prisoner in her home due to mobility issues and a recent stroke. And what a joy the visits have brought us both! She values the time I spend with her as much as I do her company and rich life stories. For me it has been a privilege and a wonderful opportunity to gain insight into what is my dearly loved but departed Grandmother’s generation.
I would heartily encourage anyone who has an hour or two free a week to look into the work that Together Co does and consider giving a little time as a volunteer – such a simple way to bring smiles and company to those who spend much of their lives alone.
As part of a generation that is living longer than ever before, many of us may face these issues as time moves on. Volunteering with Together Co is one fantastic way to give a little and help make someone feel part of their community again.
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© 2019 Together Collective a Company Limited by Guarantee registered in England and Wales: Company No. 03895574, whose registered office is Brighthelm Centre, North Road, Brighton BN1 1YD. Together Collective is a registered charity: Charity No. 1083390