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Tackling Loneliness

How do we react to the lonely?

Loneliness is one of the most serious social problems of our age. Despite extensive research and growing public awareness, very few interventions have proved successful.

Rather than placing the burden on lonely people to help themselves, we’re looking for solutions that would equip the community to notice and even reach out to the lonely people around them.

If you’re part of an organisation working on a loneliness project, or an expert in the field willing to share your experiences, or an entrepreneur or funder interested in the problem, or simply a member of the public keen to get involved, please get in touch with us.

Our first event is the 10th of September from 1 to 2pm. We are hosting a workshop for up to 20 people. Click below to sign up.

The discussion will focus on the barriers that prevent us from noticing those around us, and how we can overcome them in different contexts (work, friendships, public spaces and neighborhoods).

We have 3 topics:

1. Avoiding the overwhelming

There are key moments where a friendship could crystalize. It’s a delicate fragile moment. If you are perceived as negative, too talkative, overwhelming, needy… people will feel uncomfortable, and will withdraw without explanation, perpetuating the cycle of loneliness.

2. Feeling individual burden. No community thinking

Research shows that many of us avoid engaging with lonely people because we fear being responsible for their well-being, or we fear they’ll become dependent on us. As we live in an individualistic society, it doesn’t occur to us that we don’t need to carry the problem alone on our shoulders, we can reach out to the community, we can team up. However, the mechanisms to reach out for teaming-up and leading community change are not there.

3. Lack of availability. Not noticing

We’re often too wrapped up in our busy lives to notice those around us who may not be doing so well. Lack of eye contact, fast replies, etc.

There’s every reason to be optimistic that a community-led approach can have a big impact in the fight to reduce loneliness. The huge response to the NHS’s call for volunteers during the coronavirus pandemic showed that many of us crave to feel useful, to be part of something greater than ourselves.

Links for further reading:

Why we should care about loneliness

To be neighbourly it’s important to be available

Why loneliness interventions are unsuccessful

When socialising can make loneliness worse

Be More Us

The neurobiology of social distance