Our patron Dame Esther Rantzen is not only founder of https://www.childline.org.uk but is also the founder of https://www.thesilverline.org.uk.
A free confidential helpline that is available 24/7 for people who are feeling lonely and isolated.
I receive email updates from the organisation every month and was shocked at the numbers of people who had contacted them over December, over 47,000.
I had to read it several times for it to sink in.
My goodness, what is happening to this society?
Loneliness can affect any age of course and it is often a hidden problem. We can all put on our ‘public’ face and smile outwardly when in fact we feel desperately alone inside.
It is true that you can be in a room full of people but still feel lonely.
As we keep being told with an ever increasing ageing population, that seems to get blamed for most things it seems, the cases of loneliness is only set to increase.
So what can we as individuals do about it?
There are many people who have set up groups, monthly tea and cake contact groups, volunteers who are prepared to allow their houses to be venues, others who are the ‘bakers’ and people who will go and pick up people and take them to the venue.
I know from an elderly friend, how much these groups helped her from feeling so alone.
We all need to think differently, we can’t expect local councils or government to step in, there is just not enough money to go around, but that doesn’t mean that individuals can’t step up to the plate, like so many who are already doing so.
Often it is said that people are just so busy that they can’t spare any of their time, I disagree.
How ever busy you are,how long does it take to knock on your neighbours door, or to pick up the phone?
Maybe we have all got so caught up in our own little worlds that we are blinkered to others.
If we are fortunate enough to have reasonably good health we may live a long life, but a life alone is not life. It is just existing, going through the motions of life.
Interaction with human beings is what enriches our lives, of course family is wonderful, but many have no family, it is up to every single person to step out of their ‘bubble’ and to reach out to others.
If you have spent a week or longer not seeing anyone or talking to anyone, a phone call or a friendly smile can make all the difference, it really can be a life saver.
I remember I was talking to someone who apologised for her husky voice, saying she hadn’t spoken to anyone for 2 weeks so her voice was not used to speaking!
We all have a voice, time to use it for others to hear.
“Loneliness and the feeling of being unwanted is the most terrible poverty.” Mother Teresa