Category: community, Mental Health Awareness Week, Business in the Community, Capita, loneliness, mental health foundation, Mental Health Awareness, Mental Health Support, Global pandemic, mental health problems, Capita Experiences, Age UK, Live At Home, Digital connection, befriending scheme, ClickSilver programme, mental health matters, mental wellness, mental health care
Loneliness is an issue which has become even more evident since the pandemic. One in four adults feel lonely some or all the time, according to the Mental Health Foundation,. There’s no single cause and there’s no one solution. After all, we’re all different. But the longer we feel lonely, the more we are at risk of mental health problems. It’s also been the focus this week for #Mental Health Awareness week, where at Capita we’ve been sharing resources and encouraging discussions with colleagues about dealing with the issue as well as sharing ways to help other combat it.
In this blog, Louise Blamires from Capita Experience shares why despite the focus on loneliness and new ways of working, we shouldn’t forget the section of society that always seems to bear the brunt and how she’s doing what she can to help:
I have always enjoyed spending time with older people and growing up visits to my grandparents were frequent. I was lucky my grandma reached her 100th birthday, living at home on her own…and never short of visitors. I used to visit her every week for lunch or tea and biscuits – and always crosswords!
When my grandma passed, I realised I had space in my life to offer someone else, so decided to do in-person befriending for Age UK – the thought of someone living home alone, with little or no visitors, is desperately sad and I knew I could offer my time. I was matched with a lady of 87 who had dementia, and although she had family, many lived far away, and the day-to-day contact wasn’t there. Phone calls didn’t really work either and the real benefit was someone physically visiting and making a brew – with biscuits of course! We talked about old times and watched gameshows on telly, and she was always a little bit brighter when I said goodbye each time.
When I moved house one of the first things I did was find out locally if there was a be-friending service and to my delight, there was an organisation called Live At Home. I did all the required training and DBS checks and waited to be matched. And then the pandemic hit. In home visits were off the table and phone call befriending was put in place. Never has contact been so important and I am pretty sure our weekly phone calls got us both through the pandemic for different reasons.
My lady has no family, lives on her own and pre-pandemic filled her days with social events and regular trips out to the hairdressers and beauticians. During the pandemic her entire life was taken away from her – and without an ounce of digital connection, she was totally isolated. Over two years later we still talk every week, have met a couple of times to exchange Christmas gifts, have extra chats on Christmas Day and birthdays and she has my mobile number for emergencies or whenever she is stuck.
I am there for a moan, a life update, general chit chat and each week she has a little list of things to wants to ask me. She hates anything digital and feels the world is excluding her because she doesn’t have ‘the internet’ or a ‘smartphone thing’ – so I try and help her with that as well. A little thing that I believe helps her feel less disconnected in the world (or less frustrated with it at least).
Thankfully all social events have resumed, and day trips are happening so she’s out and about again, but there is a lot of time alone and she hates the long nights in winter and it still makes me sad that sometimes she doesn’t speak to anyone for days. So my ask to anyone who has an hour to spare each week, find out locally if there is a befriending scheme and get involved. It might just be the best thing you do!
Capita is working in partnership with Business in The Community on the ClickSilver programme which aims to support the elderly and vulnerable to connect through learning digital skills.
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