The last nearly 18 months have been so challenging and difficult for so many; and for those clinically extremely vulnerable, life changed dramatically. From visiting the local supermarket, Post Office, cafe, even chatting with acquaintances on the bus to a life isolated at home, the adjustment has been really tough.
Since the start of the pandemic, I have been volunteering as an NHS Volunteer Responder. In one of my roles I have been making Check in and Chat calls to those who have been isolating alone and are in need of a friendly chat. The role is hugely rewarding and I have found it has been as useful for me as it has been for the people I support. The scheme is fantastic as the app-based system allows you to be matched with people in your area who are in need of over the phone support.
Despite the lovely conversations I have had, it has shown me that so many people in my community have been struggling with loneliness.
Feelings associated with social isolation and loneliness are valid and it’s ok to feel lonely and isolated. Here are some helpful ways many people have overcome feelings of loneliness and discovered new ways to interact.
My top tips
Connect with others: over the phone, using the internet using Zoom, Skype, FaceTime or similar applications. Maybe chatting with neighbours from a safe social distance over the garden fence or across the road. Grab your coat, use your garden chair, make a cup of tea and enjoy a catch up and chat.
Take notice of our world around us: nature is all around us, take a stroll around the garden, listen to the birdsong, enjoy the sunrises and sunsets, watch the plants grow and the flowers bloom and feel the warmth of the sunlight. Enjoy those precious beautiful moments.
Keep moving: it’s easy to sit down, but research shows that staying as active as possible will improve both our physical and mental health. Go for a walk, stretch, enjoy time in the garden – find what works best for you and suits your level of mobility.
Keep learning: use this time to try something new, with the enjoyment and sense of achievement of succeeding. Learn a new language, cook a new dish, learn more about how to care for the plants and flowers in the garden or learn about our garden birds. Anything that interests you can be discovered and explored.
Give back: even saying a heartfelt thank you will bring comfort and smiles to our day. We’re all in this together and we will get through this – together. There are so many ways to volunteer even from our own homes, check out your local volunteer networks for ideas to help others. We are all part of our local communities and the sense of giving is so rewarding.
Why not consider volunteering? NHS Volunteer Responders is still recruiting for some roles in specific parts of England – find out more.
Alternatively check out charity websites or local organisations for other opportunities.
In this blog, Liz Parry, a volunteer with the NHS Volunteer Responders, gives her perspective on providing befriending support to clinically extremely vulnerable people during Covid-19, and shares her personal top tips to tackle loneliness.