Category: Health

You’re not alone in feeling alone


John Ball knows what it’s like to feel lonely.

His second wife, Marie, died last year. John spent Christmas without his family or friends.

John, aged 71 from Plympton in Devon, knew that Christmas without her would be a difficult and emotional milestone.

“I knew what was coming because I’d already been through it once,” John said. His first wife, Janet, had died when she was just 44 years old.

“I knew how lonely I would feel without Marie. I didn’t want anyone to feel obliged to invite me to Christmas dinner, so I took myself away on a coach holiday to Nottingham.

“Yet simple things like watching people get off the coach in couples as I followed along by myself really brought it home how lonely I was.” More

A kitten called Nazia


Gerald Green lives in a small cul-de-sac on the outskirts of Oldham.

After the death of his wife Gerald had relied on his cat, Lucky, to keep him company.

But when Lucky died, Gerald became increasingly isolated, and his health began to suffer.

That changed when he met Nazia Rehman, who works with the British Red Cross.


“How a wrong number changed my life”: a disabled volunteer’s story

Mark Belton, a disabled volunteer, wears a British Red Cross t-shirt and smiles

Mark Belton, Red Cross volunteer © British Red Cross

“I think back on how I felt six or seven years ago and so much has changed,” Mark Belton said.

Mark first noticed that his sight was getting worse in his teens. His mum, nan and sister all had an inherited eye condition called retinitis pigmentosa.

“By the age of 18 or 19 I knew I had it too.

“My eyesight was deteriorating,” Mark said.

“It was a real blow, it was half expected but it sort of knocks you back. I had just got my new job then as an upholsterer.”


Disabled and lonely? The Red Cross can help


Sue Seers received support from the British Red Cross

Isabella is a life-line to Sue Seers. She’s not her carer, support worker, or even a family member – but a wheelchair.

For two years Sue was unable to leave her house due to deteriorating health. But then the British Red Cross helped her get a wheelchair and start a journey away from loneliness and social isolation.


Four things to know about care


An older lady is helped down a path

Blog reviewed on 12 January 2018

At the British Red Cross, we want everyone to get the support they need to live as independently as possible. This is why we’ve been asking people to share their care stories with us.

Your good, bad and mixed experiences help us to understand how the health and social care system is working – or isn’t. The more we know, the more we may be able to help make it better.

A survey released today by Independent Age found that only 1 in 10 MPs in England believe the social care system is fit for purpose for the UK’s ageing population. This aligns with what you’ve told us about your experiences of care.

Here are four key things we know about care based on the stories shared so far.


Connecting communities: meet two women on a mission


Nazia providing support to an older woman

Back in December 2016, the British Red Cross in partnership with the Co-op, revealed epidemic levels of loneliness and social isolation in the UK.

Now we’ve started to roll out connecting communities: the name of our brand new services designed to help tackle these issues head on.

At the heart of these are an inspirational team of individuals, people like Vicky Day and Nazia Rehman.

Both these women know what it is like to be lonely and are on a mission to ensure others in a similar position get the help they need and deserve.


Health and social care: small things that make a big difference


Mrs Bennet and Red Cross volunteer Janet

Breaking a bone can make everyday activities particularly tricky. Especially when it’s your dominant arm and you live alone. Just ask Mrs Bennet who badly broke her right arm last year.

But thanks to a close group of good friends and a little help from British Red Cross volunteer Janet Shaw, Mrs Bennet got the person-centred support at home she needed.


Disabled people are a diverse group – but loneliness is a common experience



Loneliness and social isolation can affect anyone, but some people are more vulnerable to it than others – like disabled people.

Anyone can experience the life transitions that our research has shown can trigger loneliness, like retirement or bereavement. But disabled people often face barriers in daily life that can make them more likely to be chronically lonely than non-disabled people.

A new report by the Jo Cox Commission on Loneliness explores why loneliness affects so many people with disabilities, from the perspective of disabled people. It claims over half of disabled people report feeling lonely.

While each disabled person is unique in terms of the impairments and personal circumstances they face, loneliness is an experience that many disabled people will have in common. Getting the right support is so important.