How can civil society help lonely people reconnect after lockdown?

Organisations which support some of the UK’s loneliest people have an important role in helping people make and develop meaningful conversations following the pandemic, according to the Campaign to End Loneliness. The Campaign recently brought together more than 90 organisations, which support people who feel isolated – often through volunteers making contact.

Conversations through Covid-19 is a review of what these charities, councils and social enterprises learnt from helping lonely people keep conversations going through lockdown:

  • More than two thirds of organisations (68%) said that they had encountered issues keeping people talking.
    • Many organisations were successfully doing a range of activities to help people start and maintain conversations from suggesting conversation openers, to providing activities to stimulate conversations

Robin Hewings, Programme Director for the Campaign to End Loneliness, said

“Loneliness can have a major impact on our mental health and wellbeing.  Helping people who are lonely keep up conversations is an important part of tackling loneliness.  The lessons learnt by charities, councils and social enterprises during this lockdown will make sure that volunteer callers and befrienders get the right support to help people who are isolated to keep up meaningful conversations now and in the future.”


Notes to editors

Examples of successful initiatives by charities detailed in the report  (the relevant charities are available as case studies)

Shine magazine was set up by Time to Shine in Leeds to provide an opportunity to keep people connected and involved.  Over the Spring lockdown six magazines were created fortnightly bringing the stories of older people together in a publication.

Sporting Memories’ work was built on the insight that talking about sport could be a powerful way of connecting with people.  When the Covid-19 pandemic hit, groups had to stop meeting, but Sporting Memories recognised that the opportunity to talk about memories that sparked joy and connection would be needed more than ever.

Time to Talk Befriending created a range of tools for its team of befriending volunteers who needed more help and support to keep conversations going with the charity’s members including those with dementia.

B:friend aims to reduce exclusion experienced by older neighbours by connecting them with others in the community.  When the pandemic struck befriending services switched to the telephone and more than 730 volunteers stepped forward.  They helped create Social Bundles which were personalised packs for those living alone without friends or family to check in on them and gave people something to talk about in regular befriending calls.