The Age of Loneliness

Did anyone else watch The Age of Loneliness on BBCTV last night? “Leaving home can be a very difficult transition” explained Isobel a student in her 20s who was wondering how many of her contemporaries felt lonely like her.

It was a sensitive documentary giving air time to individuals of all ages brave enough to discuss openly the challenge of living with loneliness.

Tactics that people adopt to cope with or combat loneliness were also highlighted. These weren’t life changing steps taken, rather small, poignant steps taken to soften the impact of loneliness that was being endured.

With our focus here at Community Network on helping individuals to help each other we salute those trailblazers who shared their experience of loneliness and participated in this documentary.

What was interesting was that, Sue Bourne, the award winning director who put together the film, allowed the factors surrounding loneliness to emerge from the participant’s voices and depicting them going about their daily life. For one participant solitude was a choice. Not for most.

Loneliness was shown occurring amidst busy urban settings, following divorce, during illness, amongst those in work, with mums at home and following bereavement. And it was spoken of as if an embarrassing matter, that is until the softly spoken interviewer’s voice chipped in with an observation that hit directly at the main cause of each participants’ loneliness. It then became particularly poignant and personal.

The film was important because it showed all ages addressing loneliness. Toward the end it emphasised the relevance of combatting loneliness to increase mental wellbeing.

Here at Community Network we are delivering peer support groups over the telephone with older people, with those who have health conditions and with carers. We are aware of a gap in peer support opportunities for those aged under 60 and have been researching the extent to which loneliness is an issue for younger adults.

It is timely for charities to collaborate to combat loneliness. Community Network acknowledges the importance of working together with groups and individuals to improve social benefit and combat loneliness. In the year ahead we will be involving our beneficiaries in identifying, adopting and pursuing telecommunications that enable peer support to have a real and positive impact for those at risk of, or experiencing loneliness.

In the meantime congratulations to everyone involved in this documentary and particularly to Bob and Dorothy from our partners at The Silver Line.