As part of Mental Health Awareness Week we spoke to Joe, Programmes Manager on Action Towards Inclusion, about his experiences of loneliness and what it looks like across our programmes..
“Feeling alone sometimes is part of the human condition.
Everyone will experience some feelings of isolation in their lifetimes. Even people who we may think of as typical ‘social butterfly’ extroverts experience these feelings. I believe a lot of this is due to humans typically being social animals, who base a lot of our identity and activity around interactions with other people, whilst at the same time being very self-conscious.
This can mean we can really crave social connection to validate ourselves, but if we miss out on this, we can feel a deep sense of longing or missing out. And equally, our awareness of ourselves and our differences to others can make us feel more alone, even if we have lots of people in our lives.
I definitely remember experiencing some loneliness myself back in school – I’m sure many people relate! I always knew I was different and although I had a big group of amazing friends, I would still sometimes feel that sense of being alone in the world. However, as I’ve matured a little and had more life experiences, improved my relationships with others and felt more content with my quirky self, I feel much more content and very seldom lonely anymore.
Our programme partners give us a unique insight into the issues facing the thousands of people they support across Yorkshire. One of the biggest things ATI participants cite as a barrier to work and personal development is feeling isolated. This makes sense when you consider that they have often been out of the workplace for many years, may live in a rural location and experience other issues that can exacerbate loneliness such as clinical depression.
The wonderful work done by our ATI partners, like all of our programmes, includes helping these people who are the most lonely and lacking in support networks. We can celebrate their amazing stories of people who have not had the friendship, love or reassurance that we take for granted, who are nurtured to rebuild their social lives and sweep away the dark clouds of despair to re-join society. Long may it continue!
So this Mental Health Awareness Week, look out for anyone in your life who could be feeling alone and reach out to them.
Believe me, the difference we can make is immense!”
Thank you Joe for sharing some of your thoughts around loneliness and isolation. If you do feel like you would like some support around the topics discussed in this article check out our programmes Action Towards Inclusion and Thriving at Work.
Joe is a Programme Manager on the RISE project.
He manages partners on the programme, supporting them to achieve targets and ensuring high quality delivery. He most enjoys seeing first-hand all the incredible work partners do with their participants in the community.Learn more about Joe