Even when she received multiple visitors most days Mrs Smith often felt lonely. We know this from letters she wrote, and things said to her very closest friends. These feelings would occur in the evenings when her last visitors had left and she spent another evening by the fire with her TV for company, or worse when she had no visitors at all that day.
Loneliness is a very common feeling, and everyone will experience it at points in their life. The elderly, single parents, people with disabilities, and those who have recently moved to new communities (possibly far away from their old homes) are particularly vulnerable to these feelings which, without support, can lead to depression or anxiety.
Here are some ways you can help those dealing with loneliness, or help yourself if you are experiencing similar feelings:
Join the Age UK Befriending Service
Mrs Smith made sure to befriend newcomers to the village and helped to keep people in the community together through a variety of social clubs.
Write a diary
Mrs Smith would always keep her diary up to date, creating a document which has given us so much information about everyday life. While Mrs Smith’s diary has little in the way of personal or emotional content, writing down how you are feeling can help you to clear your mind. It can also feel like you have shared a problem with someone else.
Spend some time outdoors
Mrs Smith could often be found in her garden always ready for a chat over the hedge. Pottering in the garden or going for a walk to a green space is a great way to feel connected to others, or the natural world.
Write to friends and neighbours
Mrs Smith would write letters to friends she couldn’t visit and reading a letter or long email from a friend helps you to feel connected. A postcard would be a great way to introduce yourself to your neighbours, or you find a penpal/letter writing group online.
Don’t be afraid of ringing people up Mrs Smith certainly wouldn’t have been (not that she had a phone at home, but she would drop in on friends whenever she fancied). Call them online or using an actual phone! Pick a time, have coffee and cake together. Make space in your diary to do the things you would usually do, but from home.
Find an internet forum, or group
Mrs Smith regularly attend Womens Own meetings, as well as the Darby and Joan Club, which connected her with people who had similar interest or are in similar situations. You can find groups like this online, facebook groups are a great place to start and there some fantastic apps which can connect you to like minded people.
Volunteering is a great way to meet new people and volunteers are a valued part of many museum teams. Even while we are closed we are still accepting volunteer applications, looking to them for support with our online projects and to spring into action as we reopen.
For more advice or support here are some useful resources:
Mind – they have some wonderful resources to support people who are struggling with the negative effects of loneliness.
The Campaign To End Loneliness – resources which explore what loneliness means and who is impacted, with great links to help you find support or to make a difference in your community.
Eden Project Communities – a really empowering site which provides a wide range of resources to help you take action within your community.
Age UK – full of useful resources and links to support services for older people experiencing loneliness, they are also home to the befriending service which is making a difference to the quality of life of many older people.
British Red Cross – they have a useful page, where you can find out how to access support from them for yourself or someone in your community.
National Lottery Community Fund – this site has some great reading about loneliness and the impact of community action, a great way to get inspired with link to resources which will help you to start something in your community.
Partnership NK – an initiative run by North Kesteven District Council to provide people in their communities with the support they need.