Are you feeling lonely? The impact of the pandemic on loneliness levels will continue to be felt long after lockdowns have ended and the world slowly starts to return to a new normal.
What does loneliness mean?
We all feel lonely at times, it’s a natural human emotion. As people, we seek human contact, and feeling lonely is a signal that we need more of it. We might also feel that the quantity or quality of our relationships with the people around us are not as good as we'd like them to be.
We know that the lockdowns have led to increased feelings of loneliness. What might surprise you is that it's more likely to be young people aged 16 to 24 who feel lonely now, not older people, as we often think. Recent research has shown that older people are more likely to develop ways of coping with loneliness as their life circumstances change.
The effects of long-term loneliness on your health can be as bad as smoking 15 cigarettes a day. If you’ve been feeling lonely for a long time, it’s always worth a call to your GP to make sure you're getting the right support.
What can I do if I feel lonely?
We’ve listed lots of useful information below to help if you're feeling lonely. It includes small steps you can take to feel more connected with others, as well as the local support available in Middlesbrough.
If you're in emotional distress and need urgent support, please contact The Samaritans. They offer a safe space for anyone to talk and are available 24 hours a day. Call 116 123 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Shout is a 24/7 free text service for anyone struggling to cope and in need of urgent help. Text SHOUT to 85258.
Other organisations which offer information and support for people in emotional distress are available via the BBC Action Line page.
Local support in Middlesbrough
- Coffee morning in a bag: if you're over 60 and live in the Langdon Square/Tollesby Bridge area of Coulby Newham, get in touch with the Coulby Newham Baptist Church. They'll pop round with a 'coffee morning in a bag' and have a (safe) doorstep chat with you.
- Andy’s Man Club is a safe space for men to talk openly about their feelings and problems, and get peer-to-peer support. Sessions run at Streets Ahead on Parliament Road, every Monday from 7pm.
- Boro Man Can posts regular videos featuring real local men talking about their problems and how they cope, sharing their inspiration and hope with you.
- Inward Bound is a community organisation based in Middlesbrough which offers emotional support, mindfulness, and meditation. Courses are currently running online.
- Food and friendship with Together Middlesbrough and Cleveland lets you form new friendships and helps to build stronger communities.
Online support for young people
- Tips for dealing with loneliness if you're under 19 (Young Minds)
- How can I stop feeling sad and lonely? (The Mix)
- Ladies Circle is a modern, vibrant online club for women age 18+, which offers the opportunity to connect with other women, have a great time, and give something back
- Free, safe, and anonymous support is available from Kooth for people age 11 to 24 until 10pm everyday
Online and telephone support for older people
- Age UK telephone friendship service for age 60+
- Age UK Middlesbrough's befriending service offers home visits from volunteers
- Ageing Better Middlesbrough (age 50+) telephone befriending service - phone 01642 257020
- Loneliness helplines for older people
Useful links and tips to manage loneliness
- Coping with loneliness during the coronavirus outbreak (Every Mind Matters)
- Support tips for loneliness (Mind)
- What to do if you’re feeling lonely during self-isolation (Campaign to End Loneliness)
- Get help with loneliness (British Red Cross)
- Nine ways to cope with loneliness (Very Well Mind)
- 12 ways to beat loneliness (British Heart Foundation)
- How book clubs can help tackle loneliness (Marmalade Trust)
If you'd like to join a local book club which meets online, check out South Tees Book Club - register your interest by emailing email@example.com