The campaign for loneliness has said that 3.3 million people in the UK were chronically lonely at the end of last year, that is more than the population of Wales. Mental health UK have responded by focusing this year’s mental health week on the problem.
The week is designed to shine a light on the stigma on mental illness and to raise money for charities tackle it. One of the charities fighting loneliness is Men’s Shed Association, a worldwide organization who give men a space to work and socialize. With the suicide rates for men being double that of women’s, projects like this enable them to form a network of support.
Robert Visintainer, the project manager at Men’s shed Cymru said it takes time for men to be open in the group but it’s definitely worth it:
“When I see them for the first time, I can see them watching the other men, they might stay for an hour and or so and then leave. But they’ll come back the next week and stay slightly longer and then so on, a few weeks in, and they’re getting involved. They’re all spaces where men can stand shoulder to shoulder and talk about what they are feeling, sometimes someone else will pipe up and say I have dealt with something similar.”
Another charity offering a helping hand is Age Cymru with friendship calls a weekly phone service which matches a volunteer to an elderly person with similar interests.