Lonely this Christmas?

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The Health Shop at Ninewells is raising awareness about how loneliness can affect people over the festive period.

Health Shop staff and volunteers will be providing information on loneliness and various local organisations that help people to connect with others and their community, such as Community Companions, Home from Hospital Service, Men’s Shed projects and volunteering services.

Health shops manager Jodi Moodie said, “Christmas can be a time for celebration, but for many it is a lonely time. Life transitions such as bereavement, retirement, developing a health condition, becoming a carer or a family estrangement can all be factors in feeling socially isolated. These events are not only stressful, but can also lead to poorer health and wellbeing through the impact of loneliness.

“However, there is support out there and we want to raise awareness about the services available to people in Tayside not only during the festive season, but throughout the year.”

Home from Hospital Service is managed by Royal Voluntary Service, funded by Dundee Health and Social Care Partnership, and provides short-term support for older people returning home from hospital.

Volunteers offer support in a variety of ways such as assisting someone with shopping, attending appointments, accompanying them to take part in a social club or activity, or just having a chat. The service aims to help an individual regain confidence and independence.

Community Companions is a Dundee Voluntary Action/Dundee Third Sector Interface project that offers opportunities for older adults who are experiencing or have potential to experience social isolation.

Individuals are matched up with a Community Companion who can offer befriending and encouragement to take part in social activities. Support can be given on a one-to-one basis or a small group setting. Community cafés are also arranged within sheltered housing and care homes.

Loneliness is an unwelcome feeling where someone finds themselves having fewer social connections than they would like. According to Campaign to End Loneliness and Age UK, there is growing evidence that loneliness can have serious physical and mental health consequences and the effects are considered to be as harmful to your health as smoking 15 cigarettes a day.

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