LifeLine Projects
Photo by Paola Chaaya on Unsplash

Do they know it’s Christmas?

But say a prayer,
pray for the other ones.

—'Do They Know It's Christmas?', Band Aid (1984)

A little over six months ago, I was reflecting on the unpredictable period of events we were going through—the food shortages, lockdowns, demonstrations and the forced isolation from our communities. Building on this, I wrote an article to mark Loneliness Week, which highlighted the loneliness epidemic that was affecting the UK. Now, as we approach Christmas, many of us are hoping that we’ll be finally able to gather with our friends and family and have a proper celebration together without restrictions.

But for certain members of our community, restrictions or not, Christmas will be the loneliest time of the year. They will spend the day on their own and have no one to speak to. They may even have recently lost a parent, friend, child or partner. For some, this will be a time to reflect, to grieve, to pray for their lost ones.

Where you’re located can also be an important factor in how you feel. According to the Office for National Statistics, the areas with a higher concentration of younger people and areas with higher rates of unemployment tended to have higher rates of loneliness.

Interactive map: Loneliness rates by local authority

Choosing to be on your own at Christmas is not the same as being lonely. For those that have no choice but to be on their own during the holidays, this means that their mental and physical health will be adversely affected. Recent studies have underlined the public health risks of loneliness. For example:

  • Weak social connection is as harmful to health as smoking 15 cigarettes a day.
  • Loneliness and social isolation are associated with an increased risk of developing coronary heart disease and stroke.
  • Loneliness is a risk factor for depression, cognitive decline and dementia.

If you feel lonely or are concerned for someone in your community, we have some useful tools and tips that may be of help. Please try some of the following:

The Friendly Places pledge

Friendly Places is an initiative by FaithAction based on the principle that our mental health is just as important as our physical health. Like our bodies, our minds change and develop throughout our life. And, like our bodies, our minds can become unwell.

I believe that there is a significant and positive role for faith communities to play in the support of mental health.

I pledge to support faith groups in my community to become Friendly Places which welcome and support those struggling with their mental health.

The Friendly Places pledge

Mental health problems are very common. They affect how people think and feel about themselves and others, how they interpret events, how they cope with life events and how they develop and sustain relationships. One in four of us is likely to visit our GP in connection with a mental health problem. Every faith community contains people who have experienced mental health problems, or their family and friends.

There is a significant and positive role for faith communities to play in the support of those with mental health problems – both within their own congregations and in the wider community. This stems from the position of faith groups as places of community, of meaning, and of connection.

By signing up to the Friendly Places pledge, a faith group makes a commitment to be a place which welcomes and supports those struggling with their mental health.

If you’d like to be a Friendly Place, you can sign up to the pledge on the FaithAction site. You’ll also find a summary of our tips for making your faith community more mental health friendly, as well as some extra advice for supporting mental health during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Available services

For older people

Independent Age, provide befriending services.
Website | 0800 319 6789

Royal Voluntary Service, for help, advice and support.
Website | 0845 608 0122

The Silver Line, for information, advice, or just a chat.
Website | 0800 470 80 90

Friends of the Elderly, for year-round support.
Website | 0330 332 1110

Age UK, for support and advice.
Website | 0800 169 6565

Re-engage, provide befriending services.
Website | 0800 716 543

For young people

SupportLine, for emotional support.
Website | 01708 765 200

CALM (Campaign Against Living Miserably), for support aimed at men.
Website | 0800 585858

The Mix, essential support for under-25s.
Website | 0808 808 4994

YoungMinds, 24/7 text support and helpline for parents.
Website | Text 85258 | Helpline: 0808 802 5544

Childline, one-to-one support.
Website | 0800 1111

General support

Samaritans, for someone to talk to.
Website | 116 123

Mind, mental health information and support.
Website | 0300 123 3393

Men’s Health Forum, support for men.
Website | 0330 097 0654

Cruse, bereavement support.
Website | 0808 808 1677

The Good Grief Trust, bereavement support.
Website

Family Lives, confidential support for families (England/Wales).
Website | 08080 800 2222

Children 1st, confidential support for families (Scotland).
Website | 08000 28 22 33

Sense, advice and support for disability and loneliness.
Website | 0300 330 9256

Share on facebook
Facebook
Share on twitter
Twitter
Share on linkedin
LinkedIn
Share on pinterest
Pinterest
Share on email
Email

Jeremy Simmons

Policy and Programme Officer, FaithAction
Jeremy, as FaithAction’s Policy and Programme Officer, aims to raise the voice of faith in policy making and gather evidence of local faith-based solutions. He also assists with FaithAction’s work for the Department of Health and Social Care, Public Health England and NHS England, as well as the APPG for Faith and Society. Jeremy has a background in Theology, as well as Art History, and maintains an interest in art practice and the intersections between faith and culture – as well as good coffee.

These articles may contain testimonials by LifeLine staff members and service users of our programmes and/or services. These testimonials reflect the real-life experiences and opinions of such staff members/ service users. However, the experiences are personal to those staff members/ service users and may not necessarily be representative of all staff members/ service users of our programmes and/or services. We do not claim, and you should not assume, that all staff members/ service users will have the same experiences. Individual results may vary.

Testimonials are submitted in various forms such as text, audio and/or video, and are reviewed by us before being posted. They appear in the newsletter in words as given by the staff members and service users, except for the correction of grammar or typing errors. Some testimonials may have been shortened for the sake of brevity where the full testimonial contained extraneous information not relevant to the general audience.

The views and opinions contained in the testimonials belong solely to the individual user and do not reflect our views and opinions. Staff members/ service users are not paid or otherwise compensated for their testimonials.

Get our e-bulletin straight to your inbox each month.

Plus we'll send you our simple one-page guide to different types of mentoring as a thanks for signing up!