For many people, the festive season is about spending time with their families and friends over cheery songs, festive food and Christmas gifts. But the holiday spirit can also be a period of reflection and can trigger negative emotions in people who are alone or feel lonely, who are reminded of the loss of loved ones, feel sad or who are isolated due to the pandemic.
According to the Campaign to End Loneliness charity, 9 million people in the UK feel lonely. During the festive season, these feelings can be exacerbated, taking a toll on the mental health of so many people. But whatever your reason for feeling lonely, know that you are not alone. To help you this Christmas, we have put together 4 Covid-safe and less known ways to connect with others and fight loneliness:
1. Virtual Christmas Performance
Whether you are by yourself this Christmas season or spending it with your family, watching a live virtual performance can be a great form of entertainment when you are stuck inside and feeling isolated. Due to the restrictions, many performers are putting their shows online for people to watch as they happen, interact with other spectators, or even engage with the act. If you would like to give it ago, here are 3 virtual events that you can take part in, for free, from the comfort of your home:
EAGA Christmas Concert
Date and time: 17 December at 19:30
Watch and listen to the EAGA gospel choir in a virtual festive concert to put you in the Christmas spirit. To make the night even more special, they will also welcome any suggestions of carols you want them to sing. To attend, register for free here.
Elves: Disaster in the Control Room
Date and time: 19 December at 14:00 or 17:30
For children and adults alike, Elves: Disaster in the Control Room is performed by the Dylan Thomas Theatre online, for all the family to enjoy. Find out if Santa’s elves can save Christmas when a disaster arises in the elves’ control room. Book your free ticket on the theatre’s website.
Time Hunters & the Quest to Save Christmas
Date and time: 19 December at 16:00
The Quest to Save Christmas is an interactive performance that combines time-travel mystery with the nativity theme and places you, the viewer, in the middle of the action. This virtual performance is suitable for the whole family and you can register for free here.
2. The Sofa Singers
Created as a response to the Coronavirus quarantine by vocal leader James Sills, The Sofa Singers is a live virtual singing event that brings together people from around the world to share the joy of singing and to spark human connection. The event takes place a few times a week, in real time, via Zoom. Each session lasts around 40 minutes during which James will teach the public a classic song, then everyone sings together for the remaining time. Afterwards, you can join virtual tea break rooms to chat with the others and share your thoughts. You could also invite your family, friends or neighbours to join from their own sofa for a special festive night.
The Sofa Singers is free and open for everyone, but children on video need to be accompanied by an adult. You can register for free before each session via Eventbrite. Before the event starts, you will receive the access code to join the Zoom session along with a lyric sheet for the song that you will be signing. Make sure you download Zoom on your device (also free) before joining so that you do not miss a thing!
3. Telephone Friendship
Telephone Friendship is a free service offered by Age UK in partnership with The Silver Line that connects older people (those over 60 years old) with volunteers during weekly catchups over the phone. Whether you are an elderly person looking for someone to talk to on a regular basis or you are an empathic person wanting to make a difference in someone’s life, Telephone Friendship is a great way to enjoy friendly conversations with a like-minded person from the comfort of your home.
The service is completely safe for both sides, as members are automatically connected by the charity so that no personal telephone numbers need to be exchanged and support is provided throughout your relationship. As a volunteer, you will also receive free online training from experts before your first phone call.
To join the service as an elder member, you can sign up on Age UK’s website. You will have to answer a few simple questions about yourself. Before you do, make sure you have access to a telephone and can commit to a regular phone-call each week.
If you want to volunteer, you can find out more and apply to become a telephone friend here. You will be asked to provide some references and pass an ID check before joining.
4. NHS Volunteer Responders and the Christmas Together campaign
For those who are isolating due to the Coronavirus pandemic, the Christmas period can feel even more lonely. That’s why the NHS Volunteer Responders’ Christmas Together campaign aims to support people who may be feeling lonely, vulnerable or anxious while in isolation.
As a volunteer, you will have an app on your smartphone where you receive tasks to help others in your local area with things like shopping, medicine collection or making regular friendly phone-calls. The tasks are allocated automatically to the closest volunteer and you can choose to do tasks at times which suit you. Before you can start helping out, you will need to read the role guide and undergo an identification check. Apply to become an NHS Volunteer Responder this Christmas on this page.
If you could use a hand or a person to talk during the Coronavirus pandemic, you can receive help from the NHS Volunteer Responders by calling 0808 196 3646 (8am to 8 pm, 7 days a week). You can also call the number to arrange support for someone you know. Anyone who is currently shielding, is vulnerable or is self-isolating due to the virus is eligible.
Whether you would like to receive help from local people or become a volunteer during the winter pandemic, joining the programme can be a great opportunity to connect with others and help you feel valued.
Because of the pandemic, many people have to face being alone or feeling isolated during the winter months this year. But little things like participating in a virtual event, chatting on the phone and receiving or giving support could help you lift your spirits, connect with people outside your usual social circle and make new friends. For more support, you can also contact the Samaritans on 116 123.
Please note that none of the events included in this article are organized by or associated with Freedom Health Insurance and all the links included in this article are active on the publish date.