Age UK estimates that a million people go a month without talking to another person.
Research also shows that loneliness is as bad for our health as smoking 15 cigarettes a day, or obesity.
Older people in care homes can be lonely, if they are not having meaningful social interactions. People living with family be lonely, if they want a different kind of social interaction. And people living in bustling cities can still be lonely.
Reach Out and support others in your community – every one of us can make a difference, every day.
- Start a conversation with those you meet out and about, show interest and warmth, and if they are an elderly neighbour ask if they need any practical help
- Get to know your neighbours – seize the opportunity to introduce yourself when you see them, particularly those who may live alone or rarely leave the house
- Share your time – offering from as little as 30 minutes a month, there are ways we can make a real difference through volunteering:
- Cambridgeshire Library at Home service uses a network of volunteers to take books out to people who are unable to visit a library, and needs more volunteers.
- Care Network Cambridgeshire would welcome volunteers for their help at home service, supporting people returning from hospital, and as community navigators.
- Community Network is looking for volunteers to run one-hour phone chat groups.
- Contact the Elderly holds monthly Sunday afternoon tea parties for over-75s and needs volunteer drivers and hosts.
- Friends of the Elderly needs volunteers to help with its day centres, telephone befriending groups and coffee mornings in sheltered housing schemes.
- Royal Voluntary Service wants volunteers who can help an older person with little tasks, such as doing their shopping and taking their dog for a walk, or delivering meals.
- The Silver Line needs people to help deliver this new helpline for older people.
- Age UK Cambridgeshire & Peterborough has lots of volunteering opportunities and is currently looking for volunteer visitors for the visiting scheme
- Do-it volunteer for people and causes that matter to you.
There are five volunteer centres in Cambridgeshire which can answer your questions and help you to find opportunities:
- Cambridge & District Volunteer Centre
- Royston Volunteer Service (covering part of South Cambs area)
- Voluntary & Community Action East Cambridgeshire
- Huntingdonshire Volunteer Centre
- Fenland volunteer centre
All of these things can make a difference, and research shows that helping others is rewarding by boosting self-esteem, sense of purpose and contributing to the communities we live in.
As well as helping others, volunteering can also be great if you would like more company yourself. Find out more on how to beat loneliness.