We all feel lonely at times – it’s a normal human emotion.
We’re biologically wired for social contact, and loneliness is our signal that we need more”
This year’s Loneliness Awareness Week will take place between 14th – 18th June 2021 and is hosted by The Marmalade Trust. The Marmalade Trust’s definition of loneliness is
“A perceived mismatch between the quality or quantity of social connections that a person had
and what they would like to have.
This year will be second time that Loneliness Awareness Week has been held during the Covid-19 pandemic, which has affected us all, but can bring additional difficulties for children in foster care.
“Many foster children have experienced adversity and trauma, leaving them more vulnerable to the changes that come with school closings, lack of daily contact with friends and mentors, and other forms of social distancing. Social distancing can reawaken feelings of loneliness and isolation that many children in foster care have experienced.”
There are different types of loneliness, and these include:
Emotional loneliness – When someone you were very close with is no longer there. This could be family, a partner, or a close friend.
Social loneliness – When you feel like you’re lacking a wider social network of friends, neighbours, or colleagues.
Transient loneliness – A feeling that comes and goes.
Situational loneliness – Loneliness which you only feel at certain times like Sundays, bank holidays or Christmas.
Chronic loneliness – When you feel lonely all or most of the time.
The Marmalade Trust have a three-step approach to help you and others to feel less lonely:
- Acknowledge loneliness in yourself and others
There is no shame in feeling lonely so try to create a positive space to be able to discuss in an open and neutral manner. Loneliness is a normal human emotion that we will all experience in our lives, and it is important to try to understand and express this or help a child or young person to be able to do so.
- Identify what you or they need
Try to identify areas in your life where you can access support, as a foster carer this could be your family or your social worker. A child or young person may need some support to identify what would work for them. Some people will need lots of regular interaction either face to face, phone or online, whilst others less frequently.
- Take the appropriate action
Think of ways to bringing new connections into your daily life. This can be getting involved in local activities or groups, but also as a foster carer you have access to support groups (currently online) and many foster carers become friendly with others in their area.
You can support foster children to get involved locally to make new friends (if they have moved area to your home) as well as family contact arrangements are supported to keep any family connections e.g., siblings, grandparents, remain connected.
For more information on loneliness, please check out the resources section below.
https://www.childline.org.uk/info-advice/your-feelings/feelings-emotions/loneliness-isolation/ – Child friendly support and guidance from Childline
https://www.marmaladetrust.org/threestepapproach – The Marmalade Trust Three Step Approach
https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/loneliness-annual-report-the-second-year/loneliness-annual-report-january-2021 – Recent government report on loneliness in UK
by Lynsey Dobbs – Senior Recruitment Officer, UK Fostering