Residents are encouraged to focus on social connections during Loneliness Week
Loneliness can creep up on you, as 70-year-old Sandra Astbury found, the impact of the lockdowns, isolating to feel safe during the covid pandemic, her husband’s health, and then a knee injury led to the Edlington gardening fan feeling lonely and she was shocked at the impact this had on her. Here she tells her story.
I moved to Doncaster with John, my second husband in 2003 because his brother had dementia. Prior to that we’d lived in various places, moving with our jobs as accountants.
My family are in the Cotswolds, but John is from Yorkshire, and we quickly settled here. In fact we’ve been here for 20 years now.
Where we live, we are very lucky with everything on the doorstep from the medical help we need, as sadly John now has dementia, to the local supermarket just at the end of the street.
As you get older it’s easy to get more and more isolated. I used to run a knit and natter group and that kept me busy and mixing with people but as people got older, we lost a lot of members who either died or moved to be closer to family for the support they needed and the group waned.
Since the pandemic, when we all felt we had to keep ourselves to ourselves, we don’t really go out far now and I’ve been left with very few outside interests.
This has led to me feeling lonely at times. It’s not something I’d really felt before and it did just creep up on me, making me realise that I’d lost my motivation and my confidence to go out and try new things.
I spoke to someone at Be Well Doncaster, they offer people who need support a chance to meet up and have a chat and I found it really helpful. The person I spoke to was fantastic and really understanding.
We found a knit and natter gathering in Mexborough and I went to a session and really enjoyed it, sadly John’s dementia meant that he forgot to collect me and it was difficult to get back home. The session was great it is just a bit too far for me to travel.
Then a month ago I broke my knee, so I’ve been at home even more as I’ve not been able to get out. It is slowly mending, and I’ve had the leg brace off so I am hoping to be able to gain my strength and find other opportunities to mix with people.
I do feel a little guilty if I do go out as I feel that I need to stay with John as he does need my support but I’m worried that the impact of not having that social interaction will impact my wellbeing.
John and I have just celebrated our 37th wedding anniversary and we do most things together, we walk Bertie our dog and enjoy gardening and I love knitting – I knit children’s jumpers for the Bawtry dogs charity to sell at their fates and fayres.
It might seem strange to say I do these things but that I still have feelings of loneliness, but anyone can be lonely, you don’t have to be alone to feel lonely.
For me being referred to talk to the team at Be Well Doncaster was a real help. Knowing that there are people who are there to listen to your concerns and help you to explore what the issues are.
The conversations helped me to look for different courses and meetings that I could possibly attend, and they encouraged me to start projects I enjoy like the knitting for the charity.
I’ve also found a volunteering post where I can help out with admin and this is all helping me to feel much more in control of my own health and wellbeing.
My advice to anyone feeling lonely or isolated is please do make the call and speak to someone as there are people out there who can help, even having someone just listen to you can make a difference.
I’m looking forward to my knee getting stronger and getting out and about and maybe even having a few adventures.