14th February 2023
It’s Valentine’s Day… the day to celebrate love and that special someone in your life. Remember though, not everyone is feeling the love today and some people might be feeling really lonely. Why not #showsomelove to those around you – you might make someone’s day!
Long term loneliness affects one fifth of the population and that feeling of missing or lacking quality social connection can eat away at a person’s health. It can be as damaging as smoking 15 cigarettes a day! It affects people of all ages – and can even strike when you’re surrounded by people. However there’s still a stigma attached to admitted when you feel lonely and it can take people a long time to realise this and look for support. How you approach someone can have a real impact – taking the time to talk, listening to someone and making them feel valued can improve someone’s mental health and wellbeing immeasurably.
If you've felt lonely for a long time, even if you already know lots of people, it can be terrifying to think about trying to meet new people or opening up to people for the first time. But you don't need to rush into anything.
For example, you could try doing an online activity where other people attend but you're not expected to interact with them, such as a drawing lesson. Or if you're interested in joining a new group or class, you could ask whoever runs the sessions if you can just watch at first, rather than taking part.
Simply knowing that other people are there may be enough to help with some feelings of loneliness.
There are many different types of peer support service, which provide people with a space to use their own experiences to help and support each other, including experiences of loneliness and related mental health problems.
These are some different types of peer support which you may find useful:
If you are feeling lonely because of a lack of satisfying social contact in your life, you could try to meet more, or different people.
"Be brave and reach out to someone. It doesn't have to be face-to-face; you could share a post on social media."
You might feel that you know plenty of people, but what is actually wrong is that you don't feel close to them, or they don't give you the care and attention you need.
In this situation it might help to open up about how you feel to friends and family.
If you don't feel comfortable opening up to the people you know, you could try speaking with a therapist or a using a peer support service.
Feeling lonely can be very stressful and can have a big impact on your general wellbeing, which might make it even harder to make positive steps to feeling better.
Think about how some of the following are affecting how you feel and whether you can do anything to change them:
At Plus Dane, we recognise how much loneliness can affect someone. We have a dedicated team of 12 Loneliness Champions, available to offer help and support to our customers and colleagues. We also work with partners across Cheshire and Merseyside offering a variety of services to help, such a buddy schemes matching a younger person with similar interests to an older person, and CIC Wellbeing centres holding coffee mornings and hobby classes.
David Cook, one of our Health and Wellbeing support officers, recently helped one of our customers get back onto his feet after he was referred to our Loneliness team:
Our customer had recently lost his partner of 25 years and was a carer for a large stretch of that period. He was grieving, had lost his sense of purpose and motivation to get up in the mornings. There was also a financial impact as he had lost his carer’s allowance. He felt anxious, lonely and his mental health was impacted.
We worked to slowly build trust and rapport to show him we were there to support him through this tough time. We worked through his benefits and allowances so he felt financially secure again. We also organised counselling to help with his grief and anxiety.
He can now look after himself, is financially stable and feels positive about life again. We regularly check in to make sure he’s doing well. Stories like these highlight the importance of the work our Loneliness Champions do.