“The Cares Family community gave me the feeling of belonging when I needed it most.”
Posted by Johanna Brooks on 15th June 2022
This week is Loneliness Awareness Week. Loneliness can affect anyone, and those feelings compounded are by city living. For younger people, pressures from places like work and social media can leave them feeling disconnected from their communities, and entrench feelings of loneliness. For older people, watching their city change around them at a fast pace can leave them feeling left out of the changes.
This week, we’re asking people from our network to share their experiences of living in big cities and how they overcame the isolation that it can bring. Here, Grace, 28, shares her experiences of moving to Manchester, and how Manchester Cares has helped her feel grounded in her new community.
I found Manchester Cares at the perfect time. I’d moved from a small village in Suffolk to the big city of Manchester. I didn’t know anything about the city, and only knew one person that lived there. When I first arrived, a combination of homesickness and loneliness made me question the move. Manchester didn’t feel like home, it felt like a place where I didn’t belong.
Then, I found Manchester Cares. All of a sudden, my experience of Manchester changed. Very quickly, I was part of this warm and welcoming community – meeting people from across my new neighbourhood. I couldn’t wait to see what social clubs each month would bring.
When I first arrived, a combination of homesickness and loneliness made me question the move. Manchester didn’t feel like home, it felt like a place where I didn’t belong.
Within a few weeks of joining Manchester Cares, we were thrown into lockdown - and the familiar feeling of loneliness crept back up on me. Like many others, I felt disconnected and isolated during this time and I really missed the wonderful sense of community I was only just starting to feel. But it was amazing how quickly the team were able to find ways to keep us all connected during an otherwise isolating time. I was attending social clubs every week during lockdown and I loved every second!
Now, I’m a pretty loud advocate of Manchester Cares. I’m always spreading the word and encouraging people to sign up, particularly younger people who I’ve met in a similar situation to me moving to a new city. There is a common misconception that younger people are less likely to be thought of as feeling lonely, but I know that we all experience it. In fact, those aged 16–24 years are 27% more likely to report loneliness than those aged 75 years or older.
It’s important to feel part of something and have things to look forward to. No matter what our age, we all need to feel that we belong, and the past two years have really amplified that need. I think that feeling part of a community and having connections with other people are vital to promoting good mental health.
The Cares Family community gave me the feeling of belonging when I needed it most. Since joining I’ve learned a lot about the city I now call home, I’ve taken part in activities I would never have even thought of or considered doing, and I’ve heard so many interesting and inspiring stories. As a music fan, my favourite club is Desert Island Discs because I love hearing people’s picks and the stories that accompany them. I also really enjoy the documentary clubs and Ged’s famous quizzes. Joining the social clubs both online and in-person brings me so much joy, I could happily sit and just listen to the stories both younger and older neighbours share for hours, the activities are a bonus!
If you or someone you know is experiencing loneliness, I would absolutely encourage you to get involved with The Cares Family - and join the amazing community that they have created.