This has been a difficult and uncertain year. However, many of us have gained strength and resilience to the challenges of the pandemic.  As we head into the Christmas period, the anticipation of the festivities is palpable. Despite the pandemic and the lockdown, some of us will still reunite with family or friends; others will host a virtual gathering, but many people will still spend this festive period alone.

What is loneliness and isolation?

It may surprise you to learn that there is no agreed definition of “loneliness” in research. One explanation of loneliness is that it is a painful feeling that occurs when there is a gap, or a mismatch, between the number and quality of social relationships and connections that we have, and those we would like.*

*Measuring Your Impact on Loneliness in Later Life report. Campaign to End Loneliness.

Who experiences loneliness?

Many people will experience loneliness and isolation at some stage of their lives, and so there is no set age or demographic. An alarming 9 million people experience loneliness in the UK, and Britain has the unwelcome title of 'loneliness capital of Europe'.

Thoughts from our National Involvement Group

The National Involvement Group was created as a way in which to involve people supported in the decisions and conversations put forward by the organisation. The group acts as a soundboard for many decisions and provides guidance on topics that impact the wide diaspora of people across the Carr Gomm network.

Many members of the group had differing experiences of loneliness and isolation this year, especially as we went into lockdown. Andrew and Britney kindly agreed to share some of the challenges they faced earlier in the year.

Andrew’s lockdown story

“It’s been going on for many months now. It’s been strange. You can’t do anything. The door was shutting. I had to come home early from the caravan.” 

I wasn’t able to go to the swimming pool. I want it to open. I’m a champion in the swimming pool. I’ve got medals. I’m the best. It’s been closed a long time now.

I’m also waiting for Carol, my sister, to tell me when I can go back to the caravan.

Dawn takes me to the shops. They had little, and the shelves were empty.

I also work at the British Heart Foundation shop. It’s by the Carr Gomm office in Falkirk. It's big stuff, like tables and chairs they sell. There are two managers, Joan and James. I go to work with my staff and I help the driver unload the van. 

Here’s me holding up a picture of my Mum and Dad."

Britney’s lockdown story

“Lockdown was stressful. I wasn’t able to get out like I usually do. It made me feel really anxious. It’s been good having the sing-along sessions with Carr Gomm - I’ve enjoyed them. I even got to make bath bombs.

I’ll be able to get to back spending time with my parents too soon hopefully. When I’m at home, I like playing games on my tablet. The tablet is my PC and the games are played over the web."

You can learn more about why our charity champions for a world with less loneliness and isolation, by visiting: https://www.carrgomm.org/isolation-and-loneliness