Loneliness is often a subject people are afraid to discuss. This could be for several reasons, they could feel embarrassed, ashamed or concerned about making a fuss. People are sometimes concerned that they will be judged, as loneliness is subjective, it cannot be measured in a scientific manner, it is judged by each individuals need for social interaction and conversation; if we feel we do not have as much as we would like, we consider ourselves lonely. Some people require little interaction with others and are very content with their own company, whereas other people require a much higher level of interaction with others to ward off loneliness. There is no right or wrong, but as a community, we should encourage people to speak up if they feel lonely.
Public campaigns have helped to raise awareness that loneliness is not just upsetting, it actually has an impact on a person’s physical and mental health; research has linked loneliness to depression and some studies suggest that lonely people are twice as likely to develop Dementia as someone who is not lonely. Therefore we recognise that loneliness is a real concern and needs to be addressed before it impacts on a person’s mental health and wellbeing.
At Cyril Flint Befrienders, we aim to combat loneliness and social isolation in elderly people in Greater Manchester through friendship; we match lonely older people up with a volunteer befriender who visits them for an hour a week. Although an hour may not seem much, older people who access our service tell us that having a befriender makes a huge difference to their mood;
Dorothy ‘After losing my husband I felt very down and lonely but having a befriender has helped lift my mood. Some days I can feel a bit low but I am always cheered up when Caroline rings and when she comes to see me.’
Donald ‘Having a befriender is the best thing that could’ve happened to me. You sent me an angel. I’m not alone anymore, I have a friend and it’s really changed my life. I still have sad days but I always have Sarah’s visits to look forward to.’
Eileen ‘I spend a lot of time on my own, so having someone to talk to is wonderful, that’s what I miss. It’s nice having someone to talk to, it makes you feel better about yourself.’
We’re proud of the friendships we’ve been able to create at Cyril Flint Befrienders and want to thank our volunteers for their commitment and work they are doing to combat loneliness and the health risks it can lead to.
If you know a lonely older person who could benefit from a new friend, please visit our website: www.cyrilflint.org or call us 0161 942 9465.