Talking Taboos are proud to have been part of Loneliness Awareness Week 2021. Created by the Marmalade Trust, this significant and impactful campaign is now in its fifth year, and more necessary and relevant than ever as we continue to feel the negative impact of COVID-19 on our daily lives.
We were encouraged to see conversations about loneliness happening across the digital space, creating a feeling of connectedness and community despite ongoing physical distancing. The loneliness pandemic is not an individual issue, it is a problem that all of us must solve together.
Building and upholding meaningful interpersonal connections in a supportive community-focused environment is key to tackling our loneliness crisis. We found it disappointing to see some brands and retailers using Loneliness Awareness Week to increase profit and boost sales. Our research clearly demonstrates that social isolation requires more than purchasing power to alleviate its damage. It is important to remember that the loneliness permeating our society needs to be addressed through sensitive, holistic and community-based initiatives rather than quick-fix spending. There is nothing that money can buy that will take away feelings of loneliness in the long term. There is no pill, nasal spray or profit motivated solution that will truly address the underlying reason of feeling lonely.
More positively, Loneliness Awareness Week provided a great opportunity for people and organisations to share their own tips and advice for tackling loneliness and supporting the lonely. Some of our favourite resources include those shared by Mind and The Mental Health Foundation, and The Jo Cox Foundation and Connection Coalition’s new Whatsapp chatbot which aims to provide resources quickly and easily straight to your inbox.
Aside from being a serious mental health and wellbeing issue, Loneliness is a societal and political issue, not just a personal battle for the few. While loneliness has invaded all of our lives over the last 14 months, this epidemic did not begin with COVID-19. Despite the taboo nature of the problem, loneliness is endemic to our society and will absolutely continue to worsen and ingrain beyond the pandemic without real active engagement.
As restrictions start to slowly open up, many of us are looking forward to in-person events and meeting people face to face. However, it is important to remember to take it slow, and to be sensitive to others. The hidden part of loneliness is sometimes hard to perceive, but we have all struggled with isolation the last year, and for some it won’t suddenly go away when the pubs and restaurants reopen.
We are also delighted to be launching our first in-person Connect Through Cooking session, and picnic meet-up. While our Zoom pilots were a valued point of connection for both participants and our Talking Taboos team, we can’t wait to meet the community in real life! Head here to find out more about the upcoming sessions, and join our workshop on Friday 16th July where we will be discussing how to embed connection into events and classes.