Most of us are aware of the loneliness that many people feel as they get older. While that doesn’t make it any less painful for those who experience it, we are as a society getting better at reaching out to older people, either through national charity networks or local community groups. However, the issue of loneliness among younger people isn’t as widely recognised despite evidence it is getting worse, especially in the light of recent developments around the world.
A helping hand
For a few months now members of our Community Investment team have been calling our older customers to see what assistance we can offer, as well as just to check in and see how they are feeling.
More recently, we have also started calling customers under 30 for the same purpose. What we’ve found is that this group often face feelings of isolation similar to those experienced by our older residents.
These challenges are often exacerbated by challenges around mental health and anxiety about their financial situation, which our Tenancy Support Officers have also been helping people with. In short, many under 30s feel alone and, with less life experience than others and often no support network to call upon, can feel overwhelmed.
A surprising finding
It’s easy to assume that only our older customers need help getting online – that our under 30 customers have no problem using digital platforms to get things done and connect with others. Through our phone conversations with our under 30 residents we’ve been surprised to learn that, in additional to loneliness, many of our customers are facing problems using technology.
In fact we’ve referred a number of our under 30 customers to our digital support programme, which can help younger people develop their digital skills. This brings with it a range of benefits including improved employment prospects, managing finances more efficiently and also being able to better communicate with other people and feel less alone.
A wider reach
Despite the good that we have been able to do with these calls, we have only been able to reach around half the young people we have called. This is understandable, as many of us feel anxiety about answering a phone call when we don’t recognise the number. And if people do know the call is from their housing association, they often assume it’s about rent or another matter that will only increase their anxiety – especially if they are alone and have no support network.
That’s why we want you to know you can contact us if you’re struggling with loneliness and isolation – no matter what your age. The people we’ve called have generally been grateful for our call and pleased to know about the services and support we offer. You should also contact us if you’re having financial issues such as trouble paying your rent, bills or seeking help to find a job – you might be surprised by just how much we can do to help.
Get in touch
Simply call the customer contact centre on 0800 432 0077, explain the challenges you are facing at home and request a call back from someone in our Community Investment team. That way you will be expecting the call and will know it’s nothing to be anxious about.
Loneliness isn’t just a difficulty faced by older people. This Loneliness Awareness Week we want you to know that we recognise this and we are here to help, whatever your circumstances.
Find more information about how we can help with your finances, health and wellbeing.