The Truth About Social Isolation

Fear and loneliness

Here’s an extract from a funding bid that Emma wrote, to explain why we care so much about reducing social isolation in our local communities.

The issue I am addressing is social isolation. I understand this problem through personal experience and running groups in Plymouth. We are a grass roots organisation and deeply connected to our local community. We listen to people’s stories everyday about how lonely and disconnected they feel and have a clear picture of the problem we are trying to solve. It affects everyone, but particularly the most vulnerable people in society. Lack of funding and investment mean that strong, local community networks do not exist for most of the people who come to our groups, and long waiting lists for mental health services have prevented them from getting the help they need.

We are on the brink of an unprecedented social isolation crisis of a magnitude which we can only begin to imagine. Social isolation is seen by many as one of the largest health concerns we face, and research commissioned by the Eden Project found that 45% of adults often feel lonely and a fifth of young people have no close friends. The pandemic has revealed how much we must change in society.

I understand that the easiest, cheapest, most accessible, and effective way of alleviating loneliness is conversation. Early intervention is crucial to stop mental and physical problems associated with loneliness spiral into chronic states. This is a national problem and has a massive impact on people’s ability to reach their potential and lead happy, fulfilled lives. Surveys show that the isolation created by lockdown has produced serious damage to peoples mental and physical health. It can cause depression, anxiety, feelings of hopelessness, loss of self-esteem, addiction strokes, high blood pressure, dementia, strokes, and sleep disorders. The British Heart Foundation recognises “an association between social isolation and an increased risk of dying.” Long term it can ruin relationships, cause problems at work, and make it difficult to overcome serious illnesses. Social isolation can literally kill you.

Emma Sprawson

If this issue affects you or someone you know, many of our weekly groups are free to attend. One of us can meet you outside before the session if you like, as we know how uncomfortable it can be to join a new group. Contact us if you would like to come along.

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