“Goodwill, warmth and friendship – let’s harness these values which are embedded in every page of the ‘Friend’ and use them to beat loneliness.”
We all have a part to play, no matter how small, in making the world a better place. That’s what we firmly believe here at the “Friend”, and it’s what we try to do each week with every issue of the magazine we produce. In 2016 we decided to start doing more. Moved by stories about the growing problem of loneliness in the UK, and by the many touching letters we receive from “Friend” readers who are themselves feeling isolated and alone, we created the Hand of Friendship campaign – our way of playing a small part in helping to solve a very big problem.
In 2016 The Friend launched its Hand of Friendship campaign in partnership with Contact the Elderly, The Silver Line and the Royal Voluntary Service with an aim to make a real difference to the lives of millions of people in the UK who feel lonely and isolated on a regular basis.
Loneliness is a huge and complex problem, with many causes, but the good news is that every single one of us can do something to help solve it – and we can start right away. What’s more, you don’t need any special skills, knowledge or equipment to get involved. Making a difference really can be as simple as extending a hand of friendship.
It’s not just about old age
While feelings of loneliness can increase as we grow older, they can strike at any time of life. Communities aren’t as close as they once were; people move away due to work or other commitments, or are just too busy to get to know those around them. Families can be spread right across the country, and life changing events such as divorce and bereavement can leave anyone, no matter their age, feeling suddenly very alone.
Why does it matter?
When it happens to you, it can be difficult to make things better. It can feel like everyone in the world is having a fun, sociable time while you’re stuck at home alone. But that’s where organisations like the charity partners we worked with – and ordinary people like all of us – come in. There’s lots of help out there, and the good news is that the more people who become involved, the further that help will reach. Feeling lonely doesn’t just make a person feel unhappy – there’s real evidence to suggest it’s bad for our health. Loneliness is a major risk factor for premature death, and conditions like depression, dementia, high blood pressure, alcoholism and accidents can all be made worse by loneliness.
What can be done?
The good news is that you don’t need any specialist skills or equipment to make a real difference to people’s lives. At the very simplest level, if you can talk, you can make a lonely person feel more connected to the world. Research by Age UK shows that more than a million older people say they haven’t spoken to a friend, neighbour or family member for over a month. You could change that statistic today just by popping in to see a neighbour or picking up the phone for a chat with a relative or loved one.