A National Campaign to End Loneliness reached Pembrokeshire this week and was the focus of a day-long seminar at Letterston Memorial Hall on Thursday.
Supported by Big Lottery Funding and, in Pembrokeshire, by Pembrokeshire County Council, this initiative acknowledges that ‘Loneliness is horrible’.
Novelist Emily Dickinson described it as “…the horror not to be surveyed….the quiet devastation.”
Novelist Emily Dickinson described it as “…the quiet devastation, the horror not to be surveyed.”
Campaign to End Loneliness.
Discussion centred around a search for applied local strategies to help relieve loneliness in our communities and so improve lives; to achieve positive health outcomes and reduce the impact that, as research clearly shows, loneliness has on morbidity and mortality – yes, it’s a bigger indirect killer than heart disease and obesity and other chronic diseases.
Loneliness shortens lives and renders life unbearable for sufferers.
Adverse effects of loneliness on health:
- Increased stress – associated with boredom, restriction of free movement – confinement.
- Weight gain or weight loss – effects of low mood, isolation – perhaps leading to insufficient or sub-optimal dietary intake / poor nutrition.
- Depression and anxiety – and more severe risks to self, secondary to these.
What helps to relieve loneliness?
Here are just a few…. please add your own suggestions in the comments section below, following this article…
- A heart to heart hug.
- Therapeutic touch.
- *Contact and communication…. Women tend to prefer face to face contact (more appropriate when anyone seeks ‘understanding’ or emotional support; whereas men enjoy ‘shoulder to shoulder’ activities – the Men’s Shed initiative is an excellent example of this – ‘tangible support’, working together to solve a problem.
- *Meaningful invitations to share time together – even 10 minutes contact is proven to bring about a release of hormones that affect a positive sense of wellbeing (Oxytocin).
- Considered seating arrangements.*
- Cultural sensitivity.*
- Inter-generational meeting places.*
* These asterisks denote an interaction that can be facilitated when visiting someone who is lonely, and perhaps housebound and unable to access all that we take for granted;
How can you help relieve loneliness?
Firstly, by acknowledging that we, as a society, share this problem. It can and will affect many of us in our lives. Not just when we are older and housebound, bereaved – losing a partner, or significant other, whatever the reason, can leave us reeling; withdrawing from activities, losing connections, perhaps due to changes in our finances, mobility, access to transport, a change in housing or location, work or school, migrating to a new social group or missing out on social interaction for any reason at all.
It’s recognised that even younger people, despite modern communications and use of social media connectivity within society, loneliness is still a significant, measurable problem. Even though young people may have hundreds of social media ‘followers’ or ‘friends’, many still report loneliness. Research indicates that the quality of social connections is a major defining factor affecting the severity of loneliness and it’s commensurate negative impacts on health and wellbeing; Regular short contact with one other person – even by telephone – proving to be better for one’s state of health than impersonal, possibly misrepresented communications with many others via artificial channels such as social media messaging, text and email (sources available on request).
“Remember, human beings are social animals…
…Solitary confinement is used as a punishment.”
It might help to emphasise the significance of feeling alone when we are reminded that in many cultures and countries, as well as in cases of war and other conflicts, and in cases where imprisonment is imposed, solitary confinement is used as a punishment.
Yet, any one of us might find ourselves exposed to more extreme loneliness in our own circumstances.
How can you help in Pembrokeshire?
As strategies are further developed in this area, led by Pembrokeshire County Council and others with support from EndLonelinessUK, we’ll share the latest news and show you how initiatives are progressing and how to get involved.
Connecting people using PembsLifeOnline TV – A simple Plug ‘n’ Play memory stick & a TV.
No WIFI needed. NO computer devices required. No mobile phones or tablet devices necessary. Just a TV.
Just a TV and a PembsLifeOnline TV Programme on a memory stick – Get them here.
It’s well documented that watching television is not typically of value in relieving loneliness. However, we have firsthand experience of how sharing televised, topical multimedia programmes with a local focus really can have a positive impact. It’s not just the watching tv, it’s the way we use media as a tool for interaction and content as cues and inspiration for conversation and reflection.
The isolation can be relieved by taking their beloved Pembrokeshire, and all they miss, to them as a multimedia feast for their senses and the chance to connect with the people who deliver the content – rekindle interests they miss the most.
A simple memory stick will play content on almost every television – just Plug and Play – you’ll help them.
Share in their smiles and happiness as you take a moment to connect with them through that content… Sit and have a cuppa. See they’re OK, learn their pearls of wisdom…
We’ll produce the content…
Videos; Slide-shows; Audiobooks – yes, storytelling by Pembrokeshire writers; Music – by local musicians; Evensong from the Cathedral; Church services; A visit to Tenby or Narberth or the Preselis…. Footage of sights, sounds and places they can enjoy with nostalgia; Virtual tours of the latest Pembrokeshire events – we’ll take them to the heart of it!
Who can get involved?
With tools and strategies to help any of us reconnect a relative, friend or neighbour. We can all help relieve loneliness. Include it as part of your own self-improvement – your own wellbeing and long-term health depends on mindful ways of living your own best story. You’ll benefit – doing something small to enrich someone else’s life always bring feelings you can’t buy.
Care agency staff have the perfect opportunity and can sometimes struggle to find new, fresh ways to connect with those they visit.
Contact us for details and to request a PembsLifeOnline TV Starter Pack with a varied selection of current programmes
Programme Packs are Mix and Match – choose from a menu based on the intended viewers’ interests…. NAY, Passions!
Fishing – Shore based / Boat fishing
West Wales Walks – with Suzie and Cwtch the Border Collie
St. Davids Cathedral Services e.g., Evensong (Video / Audio / Slideshow)
Tours – Falcon Boats take us around Ramsey Island to see seals, puffins, and dolphins…
A Visit to local feature gardens: DaisyBus Gardens of Wellbeing, near Solva; Hilton Court Gardens;
Visit Picton Castle & Gardens – seasonal guided tours, interviews with staff, the ambiance of the annual Christmas Fayre, the warmth and frivolity of summer garden parties.
Christmas shopping in Haverfordwest, Narberth, St Davids, Fishguard…
Coastal paths and Pembrokeshire National Park.
Storytelling – Jackanory style – local authors read their works – serialised.
Drama; ART – Local gallery visits; Interviews with local artists – watch them at work creating….
…..And So Much More! Find out more – Get in touch using the form below.
Loneliness is taken seriously at last.
In contrast to healthcare efforts provided to alleviate deterioration in physical health, and services provided to meet the needs of people experiencing mental-health illness, loneliness has, until relatively recently, been overlooked.
The focus in care establishments and by community care providers tends to be on addressing an individual’s difficulty coping with their own activities of daily living. Care and support pathways are identified to empower a person to achieve and maintain independence, perhaps with adaptations to their environment and/or by providing equipment, information, and education as well as rehabilitation when recovering from an acute adverse episode. But U.K. organisations are leading the world in attempting to accurately measure the effects of loneliness, detecting the significance to health, and in developing an approach to promote effective ‘Loneliness Intervention’, its relief and prevention.
There is a term used in business, ‘ What gets measured, gets managed’ so it is encouraging to note that loneliness is now considered a Public Health issue, ensuring resources will be allocated to support relief initiatives.
We hope to see evidence that maximum resources find a way to support local practical efforts, shown to achieve a definite relief. All too often, momentum and resources are absorbed, and diminished, in the process of getting organised at a higher level to deal with issues across a region. Since the main activities and interventions shown to achieve the best results do not require expensive service arrangements, we hope this campaign in Pembrokeshire will remain ‘lean’ in its organisation and so benefit from more net resources to achieve effective outcomes at a grass-roots level.
We must increase public awareness of loneliness and the important part each of us can play within our communities.
Prepare for loneliness and take steps to prevent it.
Develop a strategy – as a family or a friendship group, perhaps even within neighbourhoods – take time to check on individuals that may be at risk and establish the potential to take part in a social exchange now and then; unconditional and without expectations.
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