On 16th June 2016, the British Labour Party MP for Batley & Spen, Jo Cox, was sadly murdered. Jo Cox had made it her life’s work to tackle many issues affecting her constituents, including community loneliness. And her legacy continues.
This year, the Jo Cox Commission on Loneliness was launched. Its aim? To start a conversation and reduce the growing loneliness crisis that is spreading across the UK.
What is ‘loneliness’? According to the Oxford dictionary, it’s: “sadness because one has no friends or company”.
Loneliness can affect us all, and especially carers. It’s a demanding role, emotionally exhausting and often hard to talk about with others. Not surprisingly, a recent report by Carers UK found that eight out of ten carers have ended up feeling lonely or isolated due to their role (read the report online here).
- 57% of carers have lost touch with friends and family as a result of caring
- 49% of carers say they have had difficulties in their relationships due to caring
- 38% of carers in full time employment have felt isolated from their colleagues because of their caring responsibilities
Caring is an all consuming job. The hours, the emotional involvement. In fact, the report by Carers UK found that carers are becoming isolated and lonely because they have less time and less money available – leaving them feeling ‘left out’ of social activities. Loneliness and isolation is not just mentally damaging, it can also have a lasting physical impact. The report found that ‘a lack of social connections is as damaging to our health as smoking 15 cigarettes a day and has a bigger impact than well-known risk factors such as obesity’
So today, let’s start a conversation. Talk to your neighbours. To your friends. To anyone you know who is caring for loved ones who have a life-limiting condition. You might just brighten their day! Together, we can all tackle the growing crisis of loneliness, and ensure no one is left feeling alone.
And whilst you’re talking, don’t forget to send them our way. Sometimes we all need a little break, some peace and quiet to recollect our thoughts and strength. Carers included.