In 2017, the theme of loneliness hit the headlines time and time again. While loneliness is not a new problem, recent research has brought to light the negative implications of loneliness on our physical and mental health. Research has also shown the economic impact of loneliness and highlighted that loneliness is an all-age issue, not just one felt by older people (although the effect of loneliness among older people is far from negligible.)
As well as increasing understanding, the benefit of wide media coverage has helped to break down some of the stigma associated with loneliness, helped in particular by the Jo Cox Commission call to action which was launched at the end of last year to encourage us to recognise that loneliness is everyone’s business.
But how can we make loneliness our business, right here in Reading? At Reading Voluntary Action, we have several ways you can take action over the next few months.
- Share your experiences to help others We are running a series of focus groups so we can better understand how loneliness impacts on people’s lives and what could be done to help alleviate loneliness. We work with many local charities, voluntary organisations, health bodies and the local authority. By gathering this information, we will be able to support organisations to work better together to respond to the needs and wishes of people who find they are lonely.
- Become a Champion to End Loneliness by joining a neighbourhood workshop or signing up to our mailing list to receive a monthly email with ideas about what you can do to help reduce loneliness in Reading and in your neighbourhood.
- “Let’s Make Reading Friendlier” Come along to our conference to combat loneliness in Reading on Wednesday 21 February! There will be a market place with information from many local organisations, both about the services they offer and how you can help them as a volunteer. Organisations are invited to join us from 3pm, members of the public from 5pm to join in discussion about how we can take action as a community. We are also looking for volunteers to help out at the event.
- Make use of our Befriender Match service, and make use of your skills and interests to help someone who is lonely in Reading.
Let’s make 2018 the year we tackle loneliness head-on in Reading!