This week’s blog is written by Amy Perrin, founder of Bristol-based charity Marmalade Trust, which is a national loneliness charity for all ages. This week is Loneliness Awareness Week, which Marmalade Trust launched in 2017.
One thing that has always struck me about loneliness, is the stigma and shame associated with it. Although, an unpleasant feeling, loneliness is a natural human emotion, something we are all likely to experience at some point in our lives and yet people feel embarrassed to talk about it. In 2017, we decided to start loneliness awareness week, to raise awareness of loneliness and reduce the shame associated with it. The interest and engagement in the week has grown enormously over the past 5 years. In 2019 we supported 800 events across the country, with many amazing individuals, businesses and charities getting involved in Bristol. In 2020 we ran our first digital campaign, due to the pandemic, which saw almost 20,000 organisations, individuals and companies get involved with the campaign. It reached 271.5 million people, with conversations about loneliness taking place every two seconds online on the first day of the campaign. We are already seeing huge interest in this year’s campaign and it’s great to see so many conversations happening across the UK.
After eighteen months of lockdown, social distancing and other restrictions so many more of us are experiencing loneliness or isolation, perhaps for the first time. We recently completed some research, which showed that 79% of respondents reported the pandemic has increased their understanding of loneliness. However, it also showed that 40% of people said they would not feel comfortable talking to anyone about it.
Loneliness is a natural human emotion, we view it as a warning sign that you need to address your human connections, a bit like thirst is a sign you need to drink. But of course, when loneliness continues for some time and become chronic, it can have serious implications on your health and wellbeing. Following an incredibly difficult year, we believe it’s now more important than ever to accept loneliness and remove the stigma attached to it. We are encouraging people to see loneliness as an experience not a condition. It doesn’t define us. By building a greater awareness and acceptance of loneliness, we can help ourselves and others manage the feeling.
Loneliness Awareness Week started in Bristol, which is a place with a strong sense of community, and we’re proud to see how that has now spread out into the rest of the UK.
We get lonely – do you?
To find out more about this year’s LAW and how you can support it visit www.marmaladetrust.org/law
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