“I might have known,” said Eeyore. “After all, one can’t complain. I have my friends. Somebody spoke to me only yesterday. And was it last week or the week before that Rabbit bumped into me and said ‘Bother!’. The Social Round. Always something going on.”
AA Milne Winnie the Pooh
Loneliness – the Big Taboo. The one thing almost no-one will admit to at a chinwag, let alone a Big Chinwag. It is easier to talk about sex or death, sickness or money than to admit that you are lonely. It is hard to think about, even if you are not lonely.
When Middlesex University’s Dept of Nursing did some research for Age UK Barnet a few years back they found that people avoided using the word. Instead they used proxies, talking about the importance of “keeping busy” or saying they were “lucky” because they had a daughter or a neighbour.
Here is an interview with the wonderful George, a client of Age UK Barnet, who breaks the taboo
Recent research has shown that loneliness has a huge detrimental impact on health, more significant that obesity or alcohol intake, in fact second only to smoking.
Tackling it should be easy, but it is hard when you are lonely. Hard to ask for help, or go out and join groups. Harder still if you are disabled, recently bereaved, or living in poverty (as 14% of Barnet’s over 65s are).
But it isn’t difficult for the rest of us to help.
Chat to a neighbour. It isn’t difficult – knock on the door and say “I live at number 5; I’ve seen you around but we’ve never really chatted, so I thought I would introduce myself properly”
Volunteer for Age UK Barnet – we are always looking for people to help with befriending, as volunteer drivers, or organising trips and meet ups. Volunteers with Age UK Barnet get training and support, as well as the opportunity to use us as a reference if you volunteer for 3 months or more. Contact sian.jones(at)ageukbarnet.org.uk for more details.
Host an event for the Big Chinwag in aid of Age UK Barnet (or Age UK) on 20 June. Invite some friends round for coffee, hold a cake sale or a sponsored silence.
Contact lisa.dubow(at)ageukbarnet.org.uk for more details.
You could donate directly to Age UK Barnet – send your donation to Ann Owens Centre, Oak Lane, N2 8LT or donate here