Loneliness has been in the news recently as awareness grows about how important social contact is for mental health.
In 2015, KNA commissioned research into loneliness and isolation in Kew to help us better understand how we can help local people.
Understandably, many of those we spoke to reported that they felt lonely following the death of a partner or relationship breakdown, especially if friends and family do not live locally. Others experienced long term or acute illness which left them less mobile or able to leave the house as independently as before. Loss of mobility or illness also had a knock-on effect on confidence, making it more difficult for some people to leave the house independently or try new things.
While some people told us that they listen to the radio or speak with friends or family members on the phone to relieve feelings of loneliness, others described how they often visit the shops as a reason to get out of the house and see other people. Sundays and Bank Holidays are often the hardest times as there is less going on and less people around. ‘Having something to look forward to’ is an important factor in alleviating feelings of loneliness.
Our research told us that there are particular groups of people living in Kew who would benefit from additional support:
- The newly retired – aged 65 and over – who may be finding it difficult to fill time
- Those who are reluctant to use services because they don’t want to feel they are being a burden or putting people out
- Males – identified as being less likely to ask for help and would prefer to attend more male oriented events and interest groups
- Those who would prefer to receive a visitor regularly for an informal chat
- Those who lack the confidence to visit somewhere alone but would attend with someone else
- Those who are completely housebound and unable to go out because of mobility or health issues
As a result of our research, in 2016 we received funding to boost our companionship scheme. We are actively recruiting Volunteer Companions who will pop in for a cup of tea or a chat or meet up for a walk or go an outing with one of our beneficiaries.
If you, or someone you know who lives in Kew, might enjoy the company of one of our volunteer companions, do get in touch. You can speak to our Companionship Coordinator Pippa on 07497 376634 or email firstname.lastname@example.org