5 Things You Can Do To Kick Loneliness To The Curb
The Debrief: Go on, get pally.
Earlier this week, a study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, revealed the true impact of human relationships on our physical health. According to the scientists at the University of North Carolina, those with poor relationships in their younger years are more likely to develop diabetes, hypertension and have an increased risk of stroke. Fun, right?
The Campaign For Loneliness is dedicated to raising awareness of the dangers of loneliness and they estimate that over half of all people aged over 75 in the UK live alone and 17% have no contact with another person whatsoever.
On Thursday night, the BBC aired a documentary, The Age Of Loneliness to explore the subject. The hour-long special told of several people’s different experiences of loneliness. From stay-at-home mum, Emily, to 72-year-old widower, Richard (heartbreaker), the stories are surprisingly varied, forcing you to realise that loneliness doesn’t just apply to 80-year-old Doris who lives down the road, the girl at the desk next to you could be suffering too…
With this in mind, we’ve pulled together some simple ways to kick loneliness in the nuts. Whether you’re in a ‘do-a-good-deed’ kinda mood, or your mates have gone AWOL, give these a try. You never know, you might make a friend.
1. Sign up to Silver Line
Silver Line is a UK organisation that focuses on building connections for the older generation, since 1 in 10 suffer ‘intense’ loneliness but often don’t ask for help. Help a nana in need by signing up to be a Silver Line Telephone friend. You basically give an older person a ring once a week (for free) and have a good old chinwag.
If you’re more comfortable putting pen to paper, consider a letter-friend instead. It’s kind of like having another nan, only this one probably won’t send you a tenner at Christmas.
2. Volunteer for Friendship Works
This mentoring organisation offers support for children and young people, usually from disadvantaged backgrounds. Adult volunteer mentors are recruited from London boroughs, Islington and Camden before being paired up with a like-minded young’un. They’re currently helping more than 160 5-16 year olds in London and aim to expand nationwide in the coming year.
Literally, all you have to do is meet up with your mini-me for a couple of hours, three out of four weekends per month. An educational museum visit, a cinema trip, or even venture to one of those overpriced chocolate-bar milkshake places (kids love those, right?), the possibilities are endless. Probably don’t take them to the pub, though.
3. Get involved with The Girls’ Network
Set up by ex-teachers Becca Dean and Charly Young in 2012, The Girls Network began by inviting professional women to deliver inspirational talks to young, underprivileged girls. These days, The Girls’ Network has over 1,000 women on their books, across four regions and provides support to more than 400 young girls.
If you’re female and have experienced a ‘working environment’, then you’re good to go. Sign for the scheme via the website and commit to 10 meetings per year. Handily, by becoming a mentor, you’ll gain access to 700+ super cool and pretty powerful women so there’s plenty of potential for career gains too.
4. Go to a Quarter Club event
According to its website, The Quarter Club is a network for ‘fiercely ambitious, creative women that creates a space for women to converse, collaborate and support each other.’ Every couple of months, the organisation (dreamt up by frustrated freelancers, Saskia Roddick and Jo Duncombe) hosts ‘sessions’ in which they unite their extensive network of fierce females to discuss various worries for the modern woman.
The sessions are usually ticketed, but for a very small fee you get Prosecco on-tap. Also, sometimes there’s free houmous.
5. Get a new (older) flatmate
OK, it sounds weird, but factor in the ridiculously cheap rent, the constant supply of central heating and limitless digestive biscuits – see, it’s pretty much a no-brainer.
If you’re 23 or above, need somewhere to crash and you’re not a total mess of a human being, you can stay in an older person’s spare room via Homeshare. The scheme is designed to offer a viable solution to the housing crisis, while providing company for the isolated elderly at the same time. Find out more on the Homeshare website.
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