Loneliness and social isolation have a major impact on people’s health and wellbeing.
Reports in “The Independent” and The Guardian newspapers tells us that weekends are often the loneliest for vulnerable people who may not speak to a single person for 48 hours.
The report concluded that “We all need to wake up to this problem, which is placing an increasing burden on health and social care.”
As service providers, we need to ensure that we provide services flexibly to meet the needs of the people that the service was designed for.
Peter used to live in residential care but now lives in the community. Peter has learning disabilities. Peter is able to look after himself and meet his basic needs. Peter gets some support from his local community. Peter does not have any paid support from social care. Peter goes to a drop-in during the week and he has help from SUMMIT a local organisation. They help him to go through any letters he may have received. The staff read his letters to him as Peter cannot read and they help him to make phone calls.
Peter has a well organised week. He goes to groups at a local church, a luncheon club and he attends groups for people with disabilities at SUMMIT House. Peter has some friends but many of his friends live in residential care and have support from family and staff.
Peter says Monday to Friday is not too bad. I can fill my time and find things to do that help me. It is the weekends that are so difficult. Everything changes. My friends will go and visit their family, I don’t have any family near to me. I normally get the bus and just walk around the town. The town is different at weekends. There are more people, it is scarier. I go to the library but that closes early on Saturdays. Everything costs money and I cannot afford to sit for hours in a Café buying drinks I don’t want. I have a very strict budget. I can sit in a Café on my own during the week but at weekends it is different, everyone is out with their families, their children, their partners. They sit and laugh together. Sometimes I have felt so lonely I have cried. I spend a lot of time in bed, wishing for Monday to arrive.
Peter joined AB4D a few months ago and now attends meetings in his local area. Peter was asked whether becoming a part of AB4D has changed his life.
Peter said: I know more people now and sometimes we meet up at the weekends. I also go to the Costa Coffee group on Saturdays. I have things I can look forward to. I really like being asked about my views on things that are happening in our local community. I can talk about things that worry me to people that really understand. They listen and then help us to do something about it. Like the time that school kids were bullying some people with disabilities in a restaurant, we were helped to report it and then we had a group meeting where we spoke about bullying and hate crime. I can honestly say that I don’t feel as lonely as I used to. Some weekends I still feel lonely but then I look forward to the weekends when something is happening. It’s a happy Saturday!