Are you or do you know someone who might be feeling lonely?
We can all feel lonely from time to time, even when surrounded by people and activity. With help loneliness can be something that you leave behind. With support to improve your mood, rebuild your confidence, and get you back on track, you can start to enjoy life again.
Reconnections is a service that's already helping people all over Worcestershire. We offer friendly, practical and emotional support to those who feel lonely or isolated, bringing the fun back into life. We also offer volunteering opportunities for those who want to help others. It's a great way to get to know people and give something back to your community.
With nearly 500 people now part of Worcestershire's Reconnections service and others getting involved as volunteers, something special is happening across the county. We hear more about what Reconnections is doing, and how you can be a part of it.
Eight months ago Sybil's* (names changed) main form of company was the TV. Bereaved last year, suddenly Sybil's life went from happy companionship to having no one around. Cats and the odd visit from adult children made a difference, but life was feeling empty, and her confidence and desire to leave the house rapidly shrunk.
Change came in the form of Tina - a volunteer from Reconnections, who Sybil immediately liked and who chatted to Sybil about her likes and interests. Not everyone likes the same things, and so Reconnections – with its core focus on helping people to beat loneliness and find things that give them pleasure – starts by getting to know each person individually. Sybil is a keen knitter, as well as cross stitch and crochet. The answer? Doing those things she enjoys, but outside of the home – with a group of friends and bit of lunch to boot. Now, twice a week Sybil brings her knitting and cross stitch to a local group, “I've made some nice friends here, I really have”.
Sandra – another Reconnections fan – has gone one step further. She admits that she was initially nervous about getting involved with Reconnections because “I didn't feel that I had anything to offer”. Six months later, Sandra now has a busy schedule of regular activities and even supports two other people by volunteering – passing on the confidence and fun that she's now enjoying thanks to the service.
“Now I'm laughing and chatting with people... I haven't done that for seven years, since my husband died”. Since starting to use Reconnections Sandra has lost weight, reduced her blood pressure and got her confidence back. From armchair aerobics to weekly group singing, she's happy, healthy and having fun – and supporting others to discover that change too.
Does this sound like something you could do?
Whether you or someone you know are feeling lonely, and would be interested in joining in, or whether you think that you could make a difference by volunteering, Reconnections is busy reaching out to new people. “There's a real change going on all over Worcestershire” says Reconnections manager, Sophie Pryce, “we're seeing people's lives transform, building communities, and making new friends. And that's just the volunteers!”
Volunteers are much needed, but getting as much back from the service as they are giving. Geoff is himself retired but heard about the service on the radio and got in touch to offer some of his time – and is enjoying being part of the team as much as the people he's helping. Volunteering is a combination of pleasure and surprise says Rosanna, another volunteer. “Learning about the levels of isolation and loneliness has been a real shock” she says, “You think that people have family, but that doesn't mean that they're not lonely.” Is she enjoying it though? Absolutely. “It's amazing, overwhelming... Incredibly motivating to do more”.
So what does it take? Whatever your interest in the service, it starts with a short phone call, or a visit to the website www.reconnectionsservice.org.uk. Sophie and her team, based at Age UK Herefordshire & Worcestershire, are working with partners across Worcestershire to offer local activities, suitable for everyone and anyone. If you know someone who might benefit from our service, please get in touch. If you’d like to help us to support people when loneliness affects them, we’d love to hear from you too. Whatever your interest in finding out more, there's a real person on the end of the phone – and a chance to get involved with something really exciting this summer. Call now.