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A photo of Marion, 84, and Sarah, 50

“Our friendship is something positive in a time of wobbliness”

Posted by Johanna Brooks on 9th May 2022

This week is Mental Health Awareness Week, and the theme of this year's campaign is loneliness. For Sarah, 50, and Marion, 84, neighbours at North London Cares and on our Community Champions programme, loneliness has affected them both throughout their lives, but in different ways. In this blog, they share their experiences and talk about how their friendship with one another has helped them both feel more connected - both to their community and to one another.

Marion, 84

I’ve lived in Upper Holloway for 50 years. Before that, I was in Highbury for 34 years. I’ve been here all my life. Where I live, there’s only a handful of people that have been here for years like me. It makes a sense of community hard to find. There is a lot to do, but you have to go out and find it. No one is going to knock on your door and tell you this is where it is.

I’m a person that doesn’t mind being on my own. But during the lockdowns, I experienced how debilitating loneliness could be. I found it very depressing, I was tearful, and I cried several times in the beginning. In the end, I had to reason with myself and take myself out on walks to get out of the flat.

And if it wasn’t for my friendship with Sarah, I don’t know what I would have done. When she first phoned I thought, ‘what will we talk about?’, but we were on the phone for two hours. Our friendship is something positive in a time of wobbliness.

I’m glad I signed up, I love the people I’ve met and the variation of the clubs I’ve been to. I’ve done things and been to places I wouldn’t have been to otherwise, like workplace visits — when I first went to work you didn’t have computers – and now they just sit in front of their computers all day!

Sarah, 50

I’m from an area near Manchester originally, but I’ve lived in north London for 21 years now. I can’t believe it’s been that long — I thought I’d only be here for two or three years! A lot of places have come and gone, house prices have gone through the roof, but the biggest change for me, while I’ve lived here, has been that a lot of my friends have moved out of London.

When I first came here I knew lots of people, but as the years went by and my friends got married and had kids, they moved away. That left me wondering where my social circle is – it can feel very isolating to not have that group I was once a part of.

Loneliness can feel debilitating at times and all-consuming. Everything feels more difficult. Being on my own in lockdown was tough too – once I was in the routine of staying in and not doing much it became hard to break that habit of being on my own.

That’s why having the connection with Marion was so special. Having that connection gave me something to look forward to. I could always look forward to Fridays – and chatting with Marion!

Since signing up, I always have something to talk to others about. I don’t have to rely on the weather, I can talk about my friendship with Marion and the things I learn at the social clubs!

Sarah and Marion’s tips to help people experiencing loneliness

  • Find out what works for you: Loneliness isn’t something you overcome once, it comes in waves. Even now sometimes I have days where I think, ‘this is a slog’ and I have no one to chat to. It’s not something that gets solved and that’s that – but look for the things that alleviate and make the days less like groundhog day;
  • Research: look at the areas you enjoy and look for volunteering things –– have the confidence to go in there knowing everyone is feeling the same as you;
  • Take the first step: taking the first step of any new experience is the hardest — I remember the first Social Club I went to at North London Cares – a quiz at the Peel Centre. I was nervous, I didn’t know what it was going to be like. But I had such a good time and a laugh!

Donate today

Thank you for considering a donation to The Cares Family. Your gift will help to tackle loneliness and build connection and community in a disconnected world. Our work is powered by people – so please chip in if you can.

The Cares Family is a UK registered company (10236615) and registered charity (no. 1180638). North London Cares is a UK registered company (07737818) and registered charity (1153137). South London Cares is a UK registered company (8757344) and registered charity (1157401). Manchester Cares is a UK registered company (10893107) and registered charity (1176902). Liverpool Cares is a UK registered company (11166325) and registered charity (no. 1177749). East London Cares is a UK registered company (11809555) and registered charity (no. 1186012).