'We're in this together' - Tips to fight off loneliness this Christmas

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- Credit: PA

Organisations across Norfolk and Waveney are doing their part this week to prevent people feeling alone this Christmas.

People from all walks of life across our area will still be taking in the news that they can only spend Christmas Day with their closest loved ones under tier 2 coronavirus restrictions.

For those who have family in tier 4 restricted areas, the prospect of a Christmas dinner over Zoom will come as devastating and unsettling news.

This year, people across Norfolk and Waveney are being reminded they do not have to suffer in silence as the mental health campaign - Not Alone -  is relaunched.

The campaign is being run by Norfolk County Council (NCC), the Norfolk and Suffolk Foundation Trust (NSFT), Norfolk and Waveney Mind and the Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG),  in conjunction with the EDP and Norwich Evening News.


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As part of this, people are being encouraged to send a card to someone to show they are in your thoughts, which also signposts them to a range of services that can give them extra help.

Bishop of Norwich Graham Usher becomes Patron of Norfolk Community Foundation. Picture: Norfolk Comm

Bishop of Norwich Graham Usher becomes Patron of Norfolk Community Foundation. Picture: Norfolk Community Foundation - Credit: Archant

The Rt Revd Graham Usher, Bishop of Norwich, said the church had its part to play, but everyone could help.

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“With the latest government guidance meaning that even more people may be experiencing loneliness over the Christmas period, it’s up to us all to help alleviate that in any way we can," he said.

"Do look to your local church to join in with live streamed services and other online or telephone support they have in place.

"But each of us can also reach out to those who we think may be lonely.

"Pick up the phone or call round to speak to them from a safe distance.

"Just letting someone know that you are holding them in your thoughts and prayers can speak volumes.”

Paola Colombo, Social Development Manager at local mental health charity Norfolk and Waveney Mind said finding ways to connect with loved ones this Christmas helps prevent loneliness in yourself and within others.

She said: “Even when we can’t be with our loved ones physically, we can look after our mental health by finding ways to connect – that could be by a simple text or phone call or you could get everyone on Zoom for a game of Charades.

"Being physically active is also a really important way to reduce loneliness and anxiety, so if you can, wrap up and get outside for a walk or cycle each day, or follow a relaxing yoga workout on YouTube.

“We run regular drop-in social activities in West Norfolk where you can have a chat and share your interests such as art or music."

Diane Hull, chief nurse at Norfolk and Suffolk Foundation Trust (NSFT). Photo: NSFT

Diane Hull, chief nurse at Norfolk and Suffolk Foundation Trust (NSFT). Photo: NSFT - Credit: NSFT

Diane Hull, Chief Nurse at Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust, said: “Christmas can be a joyful time of the year, filled with festivities and seeing loved ones.

"However, for some people, it can also be one of the hardest times of the year - this so more than ever as we have to learn to celebrate differently.

"If you’re worried about feeling isolated and lonely why not join an online wellbeing social? You’ll be sure to ‘meet’ other like-minded people and have a bit of fun. 

“Across the festive period the Wellbeing service is holding a variety of online social events, including mince pies and chat, crafts and a quiz, all designed to improve your wellbeing and help you connect with others."

A spokesperson for Norfolk County Council highlighted the importance of creating friendships with others during this period.

They said: “Social distancing doesn’t have to mean social isolation: by putting people in contact with each other we can not only fight loneliness, but create new friendships that will last long after we’ve beaten Covid-19.

"Anyone who finds themselves feeling alone as they follow the government’s advice should get in touch and find new people and connections to be reminded that we’re facing this challenge together as a community.”

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