The last four months have been very challenging in many ways. For some people, loneliness which may have been an issue before, may have become more severe. For others, it may have become a new issue since the Coronavirus outbreak.
As some of us begin to regain some normality, we must not forget those who may need to keep staying at home for longer. In Crawley there are over 4,000 residents who are in the clinically shielded group, who have had to exercise extreme caution during this outbreak. Older residents have also had to be very careful. In both cases this will have meant much less interactions with others in person, creating an increased risk of loneliness.
Last week was Loneliness Awareness Week, where good mental health was promoting by reaching out to people who may be lonely across the country. The Government are keen to support people at risk of loneliness, such as the elderly, veterans and the disabled.
People are urged to write letters and cards to those still isolating as lockdown measures ease to ensure they don’t feel forgotten. In partnership with the Royal Mail, letters delivered last week were stamped with the postmark ‘Let’sTalk Loneliness’, and people are encouraged to continue to reach out to friends, family and neighbours who are elderly or otherwise clinically vulnerable. Crawley has been great at doing this during the lockdown measures but let’s not forget those who still need to stay at home at this time, while the rest of us are able to go out more.
West Sussex County Council’s Community Hub has been doing a fantastic job during the pandemic in supporting our most vulnerable residents. As well as receiving hundreds of phone calls each and every week, an increasingly greater emphasis is being placed on proactively contacting shielding residents with 20,000 calls being made county-wide for each of the last two weeks. The ‘keeping in touch’ service for those who want it has been very well received. Loneliness can have severe health consequences, but we can all help, with a little kindness going a long way.
Councillor Duncan Crow, Leader of Crawley Borough Council Conservative Group
25th June 2020