Chair of Mental Wellbeing & Suicide Prevention Working Group - Councillor Carole Tamlyn

The Owl looks and listens

The aim of the project is to look at reducing the stigma associated with loneliness and build a looking/listening community, empowering residents to feel comfortable and be positive around those who sometimes feel lonely and isolated.

Over the past year we have highlighted and celebrated the great efforts of local individuals, voluntary organisations, businesses, charities and schools who have received an acknowledgement for helping and supporting the lonely.

Thirteen awards have been presented for outstanding citizenship to reduce the loneliness and isolation in the Parish of Dawlish.

How you can reduce loneliness in Dawlish Parish

Many people, especially the elderly can feel lonely and isolated at Christmas time.  For many, Christmas festivities can be a particularly lonely time of the year.  Some people are now living alone, having lost their loved ones or they have moved to a new area upon retirement, away from family and friends.  They therefore may not have a strong support network close to them.

According to Age UK, the festive season leaves about a million elderly people feeling lonelier than they do at any other time of the year.

Research also suggests that some people’s circumstances mean they are more vulnerable to loneliness, for example if they are excluded from activities with a disability, money issues, a single parent, or caring for someone else and therefore find it hard to maintain a social life.

There are many ways that you can help reduce loneliness in Dawlish, particularly over the Christmas period.

A kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of kindness, all of which have the potential to build someone’s confidence, self-esteem, well-being and reduce their feelings of loneliness.

  • Keep in contact with elderly relations – a visit, or a simple telephone call would mean the world to someone who doesn’t see or talk to anyone very often.
  • Check on your neighbours – call on them to see how they are or ask them round for coffee and a mince pie over the Christmas period. It is a small gesture that could brighten up their day.
  • Help with Christmas shopping – many find it difficult to get out and about especially in the cold weather.
  • Invite them to Christmas dinner – being part of a family or social group is something many elderly people don’t experience any more.
  • Volunteer for local charities – visiting people in the local community can make a difference to someone.
  • Find out if there are any events for older people happening in Dawlish Parish – you can find these on facebook, posters around the town and the local library etc. Let the person know about them, help them arrange to attend or offer to accompany them.
  • Spread a little happiness – a smile and a cheery ‘Merry Christmas’ could make a difference to a lonely person. There are lots of opportunities for you to make a difference to people’s lives and make them feel less lonely.

In the New Year we will be updating our ‘Do you need help?’ leaflet.  It is a self-help tool if someone is concerned about their mental health or that of someone else.  There are helplines to call nationally and locally for help and support should it be needed.

Meanwhile, Dawlish Town Council Mental Wellbeing and Suicide Prevention Working Group wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year

Councillor Carole Tamlyn – Chair of the Mental Wellbeing and Suicide Prevention Working Group
Councillors Lin Goodman-Bradbury, Councillor Rosie Dawson, Councillor Mike James, Councillor Val Mahwood
Group Members Debbie Williams, and Anthony Butler