There are many causes of loneliness from the micro, like a change in personal circumstances such as a move or a break up, to the macro, including the huge impact of lockdown on our face-to-face skills and access to other people. But the causes of loneliness are not always visible or obvious, and we want to reach out to everyone who is or has experienced any degree of loneliness through our work.
At Talking Taboos, we aim to strengthen community and societal values as a whole to build environments where loneliness is no longer taboo. We aim to remove the stigma around loneliness and help overcome the roots of isolation by developing safe and inclusive spaces where genuine connections can be built.
Our research has identified some key barriers to addressing loneliness. These include the shame people feel at identifying themselves as lonely, as well as the lack of energy social isolation fosters. Often friends and family avoid a ‘lonely person’ due to fear of being burdened or a lack of time, which can intensify feelings of loneliness and isolation. In order to genuinely address the causes of loneliness and provide practical solutions, these barriers need to be overcome with a broader, societal approach.
Our Connect Through Cooking initiative focuses on forging social connections and strengthening community bonds. By offering a free, locally targeted and inclusive activity where people have a chance to meet their neighbours in a low-pressure environment, we are piloting strategies to enable teachers, group and community leaders to help tackle loneliness on a grassroots level. Connect Through Cooking is enabling us to gather important insights about how best to create connections and lessen loneliness in our society. These will be used to create a free loneliness-prevention toolkit that is accessible to all. If you are based in the Brighton & Hove area, you can sign up for our next Connect Through Cooking sessions coming up in August here.
This Loneliness Awareness Week, we will be sharing research-based insights and strategies about loneliness and loneliness prevention on our Twitter feed. Some issues we will discuss are why we feel lonely, who is allowed to feel lonely, why we withdraw from the lonely, the dynamic nature of loneliness, insights for the non-lonely, and befriending initiatives. Keep up-to-date and join the conversation at @talkingtaboos.