These services are being funded by the British Red Cross from the £6 million raised through our Charity Partnership; so in communities all over, people will be getting practical help and support with loneliness, thanks to your fundraising.
One of the new recruits Nazia, shares her inspirational story about how she got involved with tackling loneliness – from a traumatic experience and her own loneliness, to bouncing back and using her strength to help others.
During the birth of her second child, there were complications and Nazia suffered serious internal injuries. When her daughter was delivered, she had no idea if she was alive or not, and she was severely traumatised.
Mother and daughter recovered from the birth, but when Nazia had her third child, memories of her last birth came back and slowed her recovery. She felt isolated and alone.
She came from a big family with eight brothers and sisters, and although they were around, she felt lonely as their experiences of childbirth were very different from hers. She’d had major surgery and couldn’t even talk about it without bursting into tears.
That’s when she decided to take action:
“The doctor suggested counselling for the trauma, but there wasn’t anything available for six months. So I carried on with caring for my children, living in a bubble and got on with life, as you do. But I started feeling worse. I read lots of self-help books, started practising mindfulness and made a conscious decision to make happiness a priority.”
Nazia started to feel better and changed her career, helping others as a holistic therapist. After a few years, she wanted to help other people experiencing loneliness, so when she came across the Community Connector role she felt it was her calling.
Nazia is now part of a team of volunteers and staff, working in Oldham to help people overcome loneliness and social isolation. She recently met her first service user: a 91-year-old widow who lives alone:
“It was brilliant chatting to this man. He was 91 years old and he’d had such an interesting life. We talked about places he’d travelled, and his love of history, and he said he loves a curry, so we’ll probably explore making one together!
He doesn’t want to go out just yet, but that’s absolutely fine, everyone has different needs. We’ll set small goals and work together to achieve them.
I’m proud to be supporting this man as well as others experiencing loneliness; young new mums, people with health and mobility issues, people who have been bereaved – loneliness can affect anyone at any time.”
We’ll share more stories about our inspirational Community Connectors as they settle into their roles.
Help if you’re struggling with loneliness
As a colleague you can access our free, confidential Employee Assistance helpline 24/7. They’re specially trained to talk about loneliness and offer advice.
If anyone you know is experiencing loneliness, let them know about the British Red Cross services to tackle loneliness.