Lonely? Don’t suffer in silence because one of these organisations can help
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It’s National Loneliness Awareness Week and these services in Suffolk are just at the end of the phone
Imagine waking up every day and having noone to talk to. Noone to discuss trivialities such as the weather with. Noone to share thoughts with on the current political crisis. Noone sitting across the table at dinner time.
Some reports in the UK have shown there are people who go week-in, week-out without talking to a single living sole. It's a growing crisis and major factor in depression and mental health issues for everyone from the homeless, to shift workers and new parents. But the sector of society most profoundly affected is the elderly.
A recent study from Age UK shows over the last decade one in 12 older people say they feel lonely much of the time, with the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing (ELSA) concurring, identifying that over-50s are five times more likely to feel lonely. Exacerbating factors include poor health and limited finances.
In Suffolk much is being done by local charities and organisations to help combat feelings of loneliness and despair - especially amongst the elderly.
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A friend…on the end of the phone
Age UK Suffolk's ethos is to "improve the lives of older people across Suffolk", and its Information & Advice line is the first port of call for thousands each year who may have experienced a change in their circumstances, need advice on money matters or perhaps simply need to know a useful telephone number.
The charity currently supports more than 100 lonely older people in the county via its telephone and visiting befriending service. Jo Reeder from Age UK Suffolk says: "Our befrienders are all volunteers who have committed a small amount of time each week (no more than an hour) to make a call or visit an older person for a chat - a simple act that can be a lifeline to many.
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"We also have a Home Help & Companionship service, helping older people with the tasks that they may find difficult, both inside and outside the home. Daily tasks such as cleaning, shopping and meal preparation can be challenging as circumstances change, and our efficient, fully trained Home Helps can assist.
Food and communal eating for those who need it most
Elsewhere in the county, and FareShare East Anglia is seeking new charities and community groups in the region which could benefit from fresh, in-date, surplus food. The initiative is part of a nationwide project with the British Red Cross in partnership with the Co-op, aiming to reach 400 charities tackling loneliness in their communities.
Every year the warehouse, based in Ipswich, takes almost 100 tonnes of good quality surplus food from the food industry, and redistributes it to groups who create nutritious meals which they deliver along with their vital services. These include community cafes, older peoples' drop ins and family centres.
Olivia Field, loneliness and social isolation policy lead at the British Red Cross, said: "The British Red Cross and Co-op are committed to tackling loneliness and through our collaboration with FareShare we will be able to reach many more people who may be feeling isolated.
"We know from our own research that loneliness can and does affect people of all ages and backgrounds. Re-connecting with your community, such as through a meal at a local community centre, can help people forge friendships and social networks which can build resilience and prevent loneliness becoming a chronic way of life."
FareShare CEO Lindsay Boswell, said: "The effects of cooking and eating together can't be underestimated; good food brings people together. The food we redistribute is great quality, exactly like the food you'd eat at home. With the support of the British Red Cross and Co-op we're aiming to reach more of the frontline groups tackling this serious and growing issue, because we know our food helps them to engage with their clients."
If you're part of a community group who could benefit from surplus food, including fresh fruit and vegetables, bread, dairy products, fish and meat then get in touch with FareShare .
Let the library come to you
Suffolk Libraries is appealing to anyone who might benefit from its Home Library Service.
The Home Library Service can help anyone who finds it difficult to get access to the library, whether this is due to health or mobility issues.
Although it's aimed at older or disabled people, anyone who finds it difficult to get to their local library can access the Home Library Service. You can also join on a temporary basis, for example if you are recovering from an operation and are confined to your home for a short period of time.
The service is free and available to anyone in Suffolk.
Volunteers will visit you in your own home, help you decide which books will interest you and order books from the library for you.
They will collect the books from the library and deliver them to your door every month.
The volunteers all receive training and are DBS checked.
As well as delivering books (including large print and spoken word), CDs and DVDs, the service can also provide vital social interaction for anyone who is isolated or lonely because they find it difficult to leave their home.
If you have any friends or relatives who may benefit from the service, you can contact Suffolk Libraries on 01473 351249 for mroe information.