You may be busy planning the best day of your life, but remember to spare a thought for people in your life who may be feeling isolated.
Three fifths (60%) of adults in the North East who feel lonely fear something will happen to them and no one will notice, and over a third of adults (34%) often feel alone, like they have no one to turn to. That's according to new research released by the British Red Cross.
The Red Cross polled over 4,000 UK adults and found that more than half – (53%) of people in the North East – feel always, often or sometimes lonely.
The findings of the research suggest a lack of meaningful social connections could be contributing to people's feelings of loneliness and isolation as in the North East:
Over a third (34%) of people say they often feel alone, like they have no one to turn to;
More than four in ten (44%) people say their neighbours are like strangers to them;
Two fifths (40%) of those who do have people they feel close to or can rely on say those people live far away from them;
and one in eight (12%) don't have friends they feel close to or can talk to.
Last year the British Red Cross supported over 291,600 people in crisis across the UK giving them someone they could turn to in their hour of need. The charity is calling on everyone to show their kindness this winter, by helping the Red Cross continue supporting those most in need so they don't feel alone.
Young mum Hazel Newell became lonely after moving to Blyth with her husband five years ago. The 26-year-old was bullied in her younger years and felt she lacked the interpersonal skills to meet and connect with new people. The birth of Hazel's daughter, Alice, prompted her go out and meet others.
“It was actually having my daughter which made me a more sociable person,” she says, “I didn't want her to go through what I did, I decided she wasn't going to struggle socially like me so I went out and got to know people through mum, baby and toddler groups.”
With her new-found confidence, Hazel signed up to a volunteer role with the Red Cross Community Connector service in Blyth, to help others. “This really appealed to me because I know what it is like,” she says. “As a person in their twenties I'm not the stereotypical person you'd think of as lonely but it can happen to anyone and I wanted to help people so they weren't sitting at home like I was.
“For me loneliness isn't just about physical isolation, you can have all the people around you and still feel lonely, it is about not being able to connect with people. It is about not knowing how to take that step going from an acquaintance, colleague or someone you see, to a friend - someone you can really talk to and share your experience.”
The survey also found that of those in the North East who felt lonely:
Seven in ten (70%) said their loneliness is having a negative impact on their life, and 71% worry their loneliness will get worse;
More than two thirds (69%) often feel completely alone when surrounded by people;
Less than a third (31%) of people said they have no strategies for coping with their loneliness.
The British Red Cross is there every day for people, providing services across the UK for those who are alone and isolated, helping them connect with their communities. Whether that's providing dedicated support and companionship to vulnerable people at home; lending a wheelchair so people are able to get around following a health crisis; supporting refugees to become valued members of their community; reuniting families that have been displaced; or inviting people to join us in building kinder, more connected communities across the UK - the Red Cross is there.
Louise Hedley, independent living operations manager at the Red Cross in the North East, says: “Loneliness and social isolation doesn't discriminate. Life circumstances can change in the blink of an eye, meaning it can happen to anyone, no matter your age or background.
“We all need someone to turn to in a crisis, but the findings of our research suggest that there are many people in our communities feeling they lack meaningful, human connections. This will be concerning for all of us to hear, no matter where we live in the UK, or with whom.
"Every one of us would want someone to reach out to us if we found ourselves all alone. People who need our help may be closer than we think, and could feel much more connected if we offer them our kindness.
“The British Red Cross is there every day, helping people connect with their communities. A donation this winter could help ensure we continue this vital work supporting those most vulnerable.”
Text KINDNESS to 70141 and donate £5 to help make sure support is there for those who need it most.
For more information on the British Red Cross please visit: www.redcross.org.uk/connect
Image courtesy of the British Red Cross