With the pandemic preventing us from socialising with others in person, feelings of isolation and loneliness are rising. We’ve put together a handy list of ways you can feel connected to others without leaving the house!
Meeting people online is a great way to combat loneliness and isolation. In winter we tend to go out less but the pandemic has curtailed activities outside the home even more leaving many of us feeling cut off and missing social contact. There is good news though – there are numerous online communities that can fill that gap until the pandemic subsides and possibly beyond!
If you’re on Facebook this could be a good place to start. There are groups for every conceivable activity on Facebook such as craftwork, knitting, DIY, cookery, exercise and dieting and they can be a great way to make new friends. As Facebook doesn’t allow people to be anonymous it can feel safer and more enjoyable.
There are also now community groups on Facebook for every part of the country set up during the pandemic to help those who are isolated, need food or medicines collected or contact with others in their locality. Many of these groups have become focal points for small neighbourhoods and communities and help people to feel connected to those around them, in some cases more than they did before the lockdown. To find a group for your area go into the search box on Facebook and type your town followed by the words “support group” or “community”.
If you’re on Twitter it too can provide a sense of community and friendship. While it doesn’t offer private groups the way Facebook does it can be a good place to engage with people online, share interests and feel a little less alone. One way Twitter can help you feel connected with others is to tweet along to a television programme as you’re watching. If it’s a popular programme you can find lots of people tweeting to it using the hashtag for the programme. A hashtag is a word or phrase preceded by a hash sign (#) used on social media, especially Twitter, to identify content on a specific topic.
Whatever it is you like or are interested in – be it reading or knitting or photography – chances are you’ll find someone who shares it. Tweeting with others on a hashtag is close to the feeling of being in a group or online community.
Groups to combat loneliness
The Marmalade Trust is an online group that helps people combat feelings of loneliness and isolation. You could meet people through it who also feel cut off at the moment. The Trust has been going since 2013 and is dedicated to raising awareness of loneliness and helping people make new friendships.
The Great Get Together is an organisation inspired by the late MP Jo Cox designed to bring people together, not just at winter but throughout the year. It is about bringing people together from communities all over the country. It puts on numerous community projects that you can read more about on its website.
Have fun searching!
Here are just a few online communities our readers have enjoyed. This is just to give you an idea what’s out there. Have fun searching for a few that are just right for you. Don’t try to join too many at once or you may find it becomes a full-time job keeping up with them all!
If you like singing you will find a warm and welcome home with the Sofa Singers, a free twice-weekly online singing group. As we are unable to get together to sing in person, this virtual group is a godsend for those who miss communal singing. It can help with your wellbeing to sing along with others.
The Goodreads website acts like a virtual book club. You can share tips about books to read, say what you liked and didn’t like about a book, and check other people’s ratings to find your next read.
Side by Side
Run by the mental health charity Mind, Side by Side offers a chance to connect with others over shared experiences. It is an online community where you can listen, share and be heard, available to all 24 hours a day.
Together Friends is a site for women to connect, chat and make friends. It’s particularly aimed at women whose children have left home.
This is a website devoted to helping older people feel less isolated and lonely. It arranges calls from volunteers to people on their own so they feel connected with someone.
Mumsnet and Gransnet
Both mumsnet and gransnet offer a very wide range of topics and forums you can join in for chat, discussions, sharing tips, practical hints and just feeling connected with others. Dads, aunties, uncles, godparents and people are who aren’t parents are also welcome.
This charity provides forums for carers to meet and chat. There are a very wide range of topics on offer and a chance to connect with other carers.
Disability charity Scope also has an online community forum for disabled people, parents and careers to discuss their experiences and get disability advice and information.