In this story: Loneliness / COVID-19 /

“The digital world brings amazing opportunities for connection.”

“Helping befriending services tackle loneliness and social isolation is at the core of Befriending Networks’ mission, but the impact of social distancing measures, put in place because of COVID-19, suddenly made everyone aware of the importance of staying connected.

The first day of home working brought a strange sense of arrival, as I realised our small team was uniquely place to produce and share guidance to support existing befriending services and the many community groups and voluntary organisations establishing telephone befriending, kindness calling etc. Spreading the word about ours and other resources as well as the latest news of the sector via social media and our website has remained my focus.

The digital world brings amazing opportunities for connection and one of my favourite things is going through the news feeds to like, share and comment on posts about how befriending projects are supporting their communities, in an effort to raise their visibility to potential volunteers and service users as well as let them know that their work is appreciated. It is tremendously encouraging to hear about telephone and distance befriending supporting more people and involving more volunteers along with expanding services that include gardening, shopping or partnering with other local charities – the genuine kindness and resilience is incredible. Spending so much time online has its challenges, and it is sometimes difficult to fully process the daily barrage of news and seemingly endless updates.

Ultimately, I try to focus on the good as well as be really mindful in my personal consumption of news and use of social media once worktime has finished. Like most of our team, I work part-time and in the ‘other half’ of my days, I continue to teach and practice yoga and meditation. With my yoga mat rolled out beside my desk, I enjoy stretching/savasana breaks!

I hope that throughout and after this time, the community spirit, commitment to volunteering, and empathy for those experiencing loneliness will remain and that kindness (and rainbows!) will always be in fashion.”

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