Top Tips for Avoiding Loneliness & Isolation
Loneliness can be a particular problem for disabled people. In 2018 the Office for National Statistics found that 13.3% of disabled people said they felt lonely. In contrast, only 3.4% of non-disabled people said the same. The reasons for the loneliness of disabled people could be due to the lack of accessibility of venues like pubs and restaurants or public transport. Disabled people are less likely to drive, and taxis are usually more expensive for disabled people. Plus the pandemic and the need for social distancing have exacerbated the problem in these crazy times.
So what can you do if you are feeling lonely? Well, in this post I will make some suggestions which you could try.
Join the Outsiders Club
The Outsiders Club is a social group for disabled people to connect with others in a similar situation to themselves. Outsiders have a Facebook group where you can talk to other members and browse their profiles to see if there are any you want to get to know better.
During normal times Outsiders hold lunches every month in places around the country which gives members a chance to socialise in person. However due to the pandemic they have obviously been unable to meet up face-to-face. So instead they now have regular Zoom sessions online where everyone can chat to each other by WebCam.
I look forward to when the pandemic is over so we can all start meeting up in person again. But until then it’s nice to connect with people online. There are a good variety of people in outsiders with a good spread of ages from young people to older people. There are even some from the USA and other countries.
Contact local support groups
During the pandemic, lots of volunteer groups have sprung up all over the place to help support vulnerable people. Local support groups may be able to give you someone to chat to if you are feeling lonely or need help. These volunteers could do things like shopping for someone who can’t go themselves or regularly phoning for a chat so that they have someone to talk to. There are also several organisations for older people who offer telephone calls with volunteers who enjoy chatting. For example, The Silver Line UK, and Independent Age.
Also, the Campaign Against Living Miserably has a helpline and webchat available 5 PM to midnight 365 days a year so you can talk to someone about whatever you’re going through.
Join an online club
I am part of my local chess club, and before the pandemic, we used to meet in person every week to play chess. But now we have to play online because of the virus. The club runs tournaments every week where we play other members on chess.com which is the next best thing to doing it in person. You can chat with your opponent during the game, which gives it a more social aspect. It doesn’t have to be chess either. You can play Bridge online, board games, Scrabble or even bingo if that is your thing. Playing games can give you a good distraction from all the gloom and doom that is going on at the moment, so why not give your favourite game a try online.
Meet up with a friend outdoors
Obviously, this one depends on the current coronavirus restrictions in place where you are. We need to social distance now, but it may still be possible to meet up with a friend or family member. It’s much safer being out in the fresh air than inside so you could meet up with a friend as long as you keep 2 m from each other. This is a relatively safe way of staying connected but do make sure you check the current restrictions in place where you are first. Plus there is the added bonus of getting out in nature which has been found to reduce stress and improve our mood. Although the weather is getting colder now, so make sure you wrap up warm.
Video call a friend or family member
if you can’t meet up with friends or family in person, then the next best thing is video calling them. For this, there are several different options that you can choose from. But 2 of the most popular are Skype or Zoom which you can use for free. Just download the program onto your computer or phone, and you are good to go. It’s not the same as being with someone in person, but at least you can see their face and hear their voice.
Depending on your level of mobility you could try doing yoga or Pilates with an instructor on WebCam. This could help keep you flexible while giving you someone to talk to at the same time.
Find a penpal
If you don’t have many people in your social circle that you can connect with, then you could try to find a penpal. A penpal is someone who usually lives somewhere else in the world that you exchange letters with regularly. It’s a great way to learn about other cultures and forge a connection with someone even if you have never met them in person. In today’s world, people usually communicate by email or instant messaging. However, writing someone a letter can be a satisfying thing to do and receiving a letter in the post can be exciting and something to look forward to. There is a Facebook group called Worldwide Snail Mail Pen pals which has over 30,000 members. It’s a good place to find someone to write to from all over the world.
the coronavirus pandemic has caused us to become more isolated from each other because of the need for social distancing. However, it’s important to try and maintain contact with our friends and family as it can improve our mental and physical well-being. The suggestions in this post might help you to do that, but if you have any other suggestions, please share via our contact us page.
This blog post was kindly guest-written by Alex Squire, owner of the QuadLife Blog.