Loneliness is the kind of problem that slips under the radar; it brings with it feelings of inadequacy that can prevent you from reaching for help.
Despite living in a world that is more interconnected than ever, people from all walks of life feel lonely, but it is a problem that is felt most acutely by older people.
Loneliness or the feeling of isolation, is something that affects a large number of the UK population. 21.7% of respondents to the NHS Adult Social Care Survey in 2018 said they did not get enough social contact, of those the vast majority reported that they did not feel safe.
The feelings of loneliness are not just limited to the older members of our population, but it’s no surprise that the majority fall into the 65+ age bracket. There are many reasons why; ill-health or disability which limits mobility, the death of a long-time partner, children growing up and leaving home and relationship breakdown to name but a few.
Because the ages of the average resident in the BCP region are higher than the national average, it stands to reason that there are probably more lonely people in our area than in many other places in the UK, although there’s been no official study conducted in Bournemouth, Christchurch or Poole.
With one in five people nationally suffering from lack of social contact it is likely that you know someone who is lonely, or perhaps you are lonely yourself.
The Hidden Dorset Report 2018 published by the Dorset Community Foundation found that one in five households in rural Dorset is at risk of isolation, a statistic that is only likely to grow now we are faced with an ageing population. The same report says that 67% of disabled people say they feel lonely.
With such stark results, loneliness cannot be ignored, not just in the BCP area but the often harder to reach rural communities that form most of Dorset.
There is no need to be fearful if you are lonely, there are plenty of organisations in the BCP, and wider Dorset area, who want to help:
Age UK Community Connections
The first of these is Age UK, who launched their Community Connections service with the aim of connecting those who are house-bound to support workers who can help to reconnect them to their local community through an activity of their choice. This 12-week programme is Council supported and aims to address the root cause of loneliness.
For more information go here.
Bournemouth Home Library Service
This service brings books, DVDs, CDs and audio tapes to your home on a regular basis, it targeted at those unable to reach a library. Volunteers provide a friendly face who can check that you are safe; they can even recommend books based on your tastes! This not only helps to counter loneliness by providing a routine visitor but also helps prevent boredom.
For more information, or to sign up, go here.
If you are able to get out of the house but feel like you have nowhere to go don’t worry, this volunteer run service provides the perfect place to try out a new activity – like drawing or painting – or just have a chat and a cup of tea. Aside from this they also provide help with gentle exercise to keep you healthy and provide dancing facilities.
If this sounds like something you would be interested in, or you know someone who would be, visit this website.
Dorset Mind Befriending Service
Dorset Mind run a befriending service, but unlike the other two options is open to anyone over the age of 18 who suffers from mild to moderate mental well-being challenges. Their schemes cover the entirety of Dorset, through three different services. Volunteers are trained to provide positive one-on-one support in a way that helps to create bonds to their local community.
Companions Café meets at St Saviours Church, Iford and is a monthly opportunity for friends, family, and people coping with illness, the effects of old age, memory problems, disability or mental health challenges to meet in a safe place for a little bit of relaxation. It offers time to gain support and friendship, and for access to information and advice.
- Relax and chat with others who understand
- Join in with fun activities
- Swap tips and be signposted to services and support workers
We provide free refreshments, time to talk, relax, and socialise, as well as gentle, friendly people who will listen and care about you.
Takes place: third Friday of the month, 10am – 12pm
Click here for more information
Cosy Club Bournemouth
Located in Bournemouth’s town centre, Cosy Club are in partnership with Independent Age to battle loneliness in every generation. They are encouraging the local community to pop along for a free cup of tea every Wednesday between 10am and 11am. Their team are there for a chat, as well as offering cake, board games and somewhere comfortable to relax.
To find out more about the initiative, read our article here.