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Loneliness in the spotlight

16/05/2022

Whilst last week’s #MentalHealthWeek is officially over, we believe that taking care of our mental health should be a priority for individuals and communities every week of the year – and all the more so for our older and vulnerable residents who, if feeling lonely or socially isolated, can become more susceptible to anxiety, depression or even physical health problems.

According to studies cited by the UK’s Campaign to End Loneliness, half a million older people go at least five or six days a week without seeing or speaking to anyone at all, whilst two fifths of older people (about 3.9 million) say the television is their main source of company. Suffice to say, these numbers increased dramatically during the Covid-19 lockdowns, with a study from the charity, Age UK, indicating that, at the time of research, the proportion of people aged 70+ experiencing depression had doubled since the start of the pandemic. Whilst we are slowly and cautiously emerging from what we hope was the peak of the pandemic, there is still much work to be done when it comes to rebuilding our communities, relationships and sense of confidence and wellbeing.

At Gosport Voluntary Action, we feel that loneliness amongst our older and vulnerable residents is a societal challenge that we can all help to address. By the same token, for younger people experiencing loneliness and lacking confidence, volunteering can be the perfect antidote, helping younger people (and, indeed, people of all ages) to find purpose, feel more optimistic about life, and gain that vital sense of belonging which is critical to wellbeing and good mental health.

GVA’s Befriending service, in pairing up volunteers with older or vulnerable residents in need of support through companionship, conversation and mutual friendship, helps to tackle loneliness, boost social connections and enhance health and happiness for local people of #Gosport Borough across the generations.

Befriending Volunteers: We need you!

Our list of local, older residents in need of befriending support is growing, and we need your help to address this imbalance, and to help reduce loneliness amongst our local older population within Gosport Borough.

If you’re able to offer just one hour of your time for companionship and support on a regular, long-term basis, please do consider registering as a Volunteer Befriender today. Given the myriad benefits associated with volunteering – from reduced rates of stress and anxiety, to improved levels of positivity, happiness and an enhanced sense of calm and wellbeing – taking that first step towards becoming a Befriending Volunteer promises to be worth its weight in gold.

Loneliness and social isolation can have devastating impacts on our mental and even physical health, but through small, regular interactions – such as a weekly cuppa and a chat, as many of our local older residents and befrienders enjoy each week – we can help one another to feel supported, seen and heard.

If you’re ready to take on the highly rewarding, meaningful challenge of helping an older or vulnerable resident to kick loneliness to the curb – whilst boosting your own confidence, health and happiness in the process – please contact our Welfare Coordinator, Emma May, on emma.may@gva.org.uk/Tel: 023 9250 3871, or register your interest to volunteer here.

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