Social isolation

What it's like to be lonely in Plymouth

On Saturday 14th December, Chris wrote in the Saturday thought for Plymouth Herald on loneliness.

What it's like to be lonely in Plymouth

Loneliness is the “perceived gap between the quality and quantity of relationships that we have and those we want” Everyone experiences loneliness at some time in their lives, for example in moving to a new city or school, after a bereavement or loss, or simply in that fleeting moment of feeling alone in a room of strangers. It is often understood as a feeling akin to and as useful as hunger or thirst: ‘it is our internal trigger, letting us know it’s time to seek company, as hunger lets us know it’s time to eat.’

Following the death of her husband, 93-year-old Dorothy has lived alone for the past 21 years. For many years she found herself with no-one to talk to and says if it wasn't for the television, she simply wouldn't be able to "stick it".

Loneliness is something that can affect anyone at any time; it doesn't discriminate and affects over two thirds of adults in the UK.

In Plymouth, there are just over 47,000 people aged over 65, living in Plymouth. Almost 13,500 of these people are registered as living alone.

Being able to get out and engage socially with others helps to improve physical. Mental health and overall wellbeing it is important for elderly people to have somewhere to go where they feel safe and are comfortable, it helps them to gain the confidence to meet and engage with others improving their social networks so they have company and companionship

What can we do to help loved ones who are feeling isolated? We need to be aware of changes as loneliness can affect people in different ways, people do not always have to be alone to feel lonely or isolated.

Things to look out for

  • Is there a change of circumstance at home or work?
  • Has a partner gone into hospital or passed away?
  • Are they not getting out as much as they used to?
  • Do they have mobility problems which mean they can't interact with people?

God requires us to reach out to our older population and share His love in ways that will make a real difference to their lives. Christmas is a key time that we all need to look out for those who are their own and struggling.

Transforming Plymouth Together is working with churches to identify opportunities and activities that will support and encourage our older population to fell less isolated and loved in our city.

If you have an idea or would like to be involved please contact us.