Today (10 October) marks World Mental Health Day and the message is clear – it is vital that we look after each other now more than ever, particularly with local lockdowns on the increase across the UK. Loneliness is one of the major contributors to mental health issues and Ross Good Neighbours continues its good work in the community to combat loneliness with its Buddy Scheme, ensuring the vulnerable and isolated in our community are not forgotten.
A 2020 report by the Mental Health Foundation who organises World Mental Health Day, revealed that almost a quarter of adults living in lockdown in the UK have felt loneliness and warns of a long-term risk to mental health of loneliness. Surprisingly, the most affected group were young people aged 18 to 24 years with more than 44% saying they felt lonely, whilst one in six older people aged over 55 said they had felt lonely as a result of coronavirus. Lockdown and social distancing has meant we need to connect with each other in other ways and the charity advises that “Now, more than ever, is the time to keep up those strong social networks that act like a buffer against poor mental health. Staying in touch via video calls, Whatsapp or just regular phone calls, is vital. Keep up your routines where possible and if you’re not tech savvy, regular phone calls, messages or even writing letters are lovely ways to show someone that you’re thinking of them.“
Ross Good Neighbours’ Buddy Scheme was set up by Jane Roberts, Chair of the Ross Community Development Trust, to combat loneliness in the community. Volunteers in and around Ross are being encouraged to join the scheme which aims to look after people who either find themselves isolated due to the coronavirus or who are vulnerable and unable to perform daily chores such as shopping, light gardening, simple tasks like changing lightbulbs or caring for their pets.
Jane commented: “We are keen to hear from anyone who can spare a few hours a month to become a Neighbourhood Buddy. You can either email firstname.lastname@example.org or call our Message Line on 01989 313002 leaving your details. Having regular contact with the outside world is essential to combat loneliness and improve mental health – our volunteers are literally a lifeline to a lot of people and they may be the only interaction they receive from one week to the next.”
The Ross Community Development Trust’s ‘Phone Friends’ service, which has now transferred over to Age UK in Ross-on-Wye, is a great way for isolated people to receive a regular friendly phone call via Age UK’s ‘Companion Line’. If you, or someone you know, could benefit from a regular chat, contact Laura Simnett, Age UK’s Volunteer Support Officer for Ross-on-Wye on 01989 567165 or drop her an email at email@example.com.