On Loneliness Awareness Week, let’s remember the challenges of those for whom this is more than just a campaign.
This week (15th-19th June) is Loneliness Awareness Week, with a focus on increasing the conversation surrounding loneliness. Participate in this discussion on social media by using the hashtag #LetsTalkLoneliness to remove barriers against discussing our struggles.
During this pandemic, many have found alternate forms of socialising, such as virtual quizzes, or video calls instead of meeting up in person. Many marginalised and isolated members of society do not have the resources or relationships to do so. They may be particularly prone to chronic loneliness or social loneliness, owing to their separation from the rest of society. This has been exacerbated by isolation, where there is even less opportunity to interact with other people. Importantly for these vulnerable members of society, isolation means that they are unable to access important services, and charities are unable to provide assistance. With increasing talk of a “loneliness crisis” and open discussions on mental health, we are seeing strong connections being made between loneliness and mental health problems, most notably depression. If isolated individuals then suffer from poor mental health, it will become even harder to access services and interact meaningfully with society, which will then worsen the loneliness, in a never-ending cycle.
BAME individuals, including our users, are particularly prone to loneliness. Reasons include feeling isolated from society, suffering prejudice and racism, lack of access to services, and a perceived stigma against speaking about this issue. Research suggests that not feeling a sense of belonging or strong connection to their (geographical) communities also plays a major role in increasing loneliness in BAME people. Being isolated or marginalised next to removes the possibility of attaining any real sense of belonging. With the outbreak of the Coronavirus and enforcement of lockdown, many BAME communities are losing out of important sources of support, like foodbanks and other charitable organisations, which are vital in more deprived areas. This, combined with physical isolation and exacerbated stress factors (like family members getting ill, education, or finances) have resulted in a “devastating” decline in the mental health of BAME individuals.
Loneliness doesn’t affect one community but affects all communities. Since the lockdown, BAME women and elderly women have been reaching out to us for support regarding their isolation and #loneliness #lonelinessaffectsall
— JAN Trust (@JANTrust) June 15, 2020
At JAN Trust, we know from our beneficiaries that more and more are struggling with their wellbeing, with increasing cases of depression, in this lockdown period. In difficult times such as these, it is even more important that we do not leave these people behind. The isolated and marginalised members of BAMER communities we help are among those groups most likely to struggle with loneliness that have been mentioned above. We work to empower members of these marginalised communities so that they can reintegrate into society. We must all do more to watch out for those people who do not have the same networks or resources as us, so that they do not also become part of the loneliness crisis, and suffer from poor mental health as a result. This could even just start with starting a conversation with someone with whom you don’t normally speak, volunteering to help someone, or calling out prejudice and hate, to emphasise that everyone belongs in our communities. Charities like ours are crucial resources and sources of aid for many marginalised communities, but we have come under threat from COVID-19 constraints. If you’d like to help us continue to reach out to some of the most isolated members of society, you can donate here.