This week is Loneliness Awareness Week.
Loneliness Awareness Week (LAW) began by the Marmalade Trust 4 years ago to raise awareness of loneliness and encourage people to speak about it openly. It’s a powerful message that resonates with many and each year LAW receives more and more attention.
Last year 800 events took place and on our campaign launch day, conversations about loneliness were taking place every 5 seconds.
Marmalade Trust is a charity that raises awareness of loneliness and helps people to make new connections. Their vision is to create a society where anyone can talk freely and openly about loneliness.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, instead of face-to-face events the Trust are hosting a virtual campaign called ‘One Less L
onely Voice’ – taking the ‘one’ out of l oneliness, to signify one less lonely voice.
Their aim is to empower everyone to understand loneliness one conversation at a time. By building on our understanding, we can help ourselves and others to manage feelings of loneliness.
Combating Loneliness during COVID-19
Loneliness was endemic for many older people before the onset of Covid-19. The measures people have been asked to take to combat the virus will inevitably leave many older people even more isolated than before. Those who are considered extremely vulnerable and have been asked shield are being asked to stay inside for a prolonged period of time and are at even greater risk of loneliness.
· 2.8 million (38%) people aged 70 and over live alone
· Before Covid-19 630,000 (9%) people aged 70 and over said they are often lonely, almost half said that a pet or the television is their main form of company
· 3.6 million people aged 70 (about half of the over 70 population) and over are not online and only about 1 in 10 have a smart phone
Charity Age UK nationally and Local Age UKs are working hard to alleviate loneliness through befriending schemes, telephone helplines, teaching digital skills to connect online and will continue to be there for isolated and lonely older people even as lockdown lifts for others.
There are also plenty of ways we can all help older people without leaving the house:
- Phone friends or relatives to check in and chat – particularly those who live alone. Even a short call can make a big difference to someone who is feeling lonely, and remind them that they are missed and cared for. You could also send cards or small gifts to let people know that you are thinking of them.
- Share your boredom-busters. Inspire your friends and family with ideas of crafts, activities or recipes that you have tried out. You could even try doing activities together over the phone, such as working together on a crossword or taking a quiz.
- Get together virtually. Why not explore ways to hold your regular events using the internet? People have been hosting everything from quizzes to book club discussions online, and you don’t need to be a tech wizard to get involved. Video calling can be very straightforward to use – take a look at this Age UK video calling how-to guide to get started.
- Support friends or neighbours to get online. Some people are taking their first steps into the digital space right now, which can be a bit confusing if you’re not used to it. If you have digital know-how, see if you can help them over the phone with any issues they run into. Age UK also have some handy tips on using digital technology to keep connected you could take them through.
- Join the Big Knit. Try your hand at knitting or crocheting and make a tiny hat, just right for topping off an innocent smoothie bottle. Every hat sold raises 25p for Age UK.Find out more and get started.