My name is Gemma and I am one of three Development Workers in the Friendship Changing Lives Project here at Dunfermline Advocacy.
During recent years there has been an increase in awareness around the detrimental impact of loneliness and social isolation, both on people’s physical and mental health. Not only are the outcomes poor, this doesn’t just affect a small minority within our communities but is something that many of us are likely to experience at some point in our lives. The Scottish Household Survey (2018) reported that 1 in 5 adults experienced loneliness every week!
The current pandemic is highly likely to have magnified these feelings, with many more of us appreciating what loneliness feels like, as we have been forced to be physically distanced from friends, family and supportive networks. The current Loneliness Awareness Week 2020, therefore, feels particularly poignant this year, encouraging everyone to start the conversation and talk about loneliness. #LetsTalkLoneliness
As a Development Worker for the Friendship Changing Lives Project, supporting vulnerable adults affected by loneliness and social isolation, we see the huge benefit that having a trusted and supportive friend can have on people’s lives. Having someone to turn to during difficult times, help provide support to understand situations and be heard in choices and decisions, as well as be connected within our local community, makes a real difference. Our experience is that these partnerships are mutually beneficial and it is common for volunteers to gain a friend who may often share similar interests. This is highlighted by a volunteer who recently said “I didn’t expect it to be like that.
I didn’t expect to also have a friend”.
Knowing that someone is there to listen, and that someone cares, is currently more important than ever. We were recently told “a 5-10-minute phone call makes all the difference…just hearing a voice…a break from just looking at the 4 walls”. Our advocates have adjusted to Citizen Advocacy at a distance in creative ways, using video calls, gaming online, phone calls and post, to ensure that they can maintain and continue to provide this much needed contact.
Citizen advocacy helps communities as a whole be more understanding of everyone’s needs, as well as reduce social isolation, one partnership at a time. We are continuing to work hard to find the right volunteer to match with each vulnerable person who is currently in need of an advocate. We are hopeful that the community spirit that has been demonstrated during Covid-19 will continue as we move forward. If you would like to make a difference to the life of a vulnerable person within your local community, please get in touch.
Phone 07307 613848 or 07988 298539