Sarah was 24 when she had her first child. Now, she is 32 and a mother to four.
Looking back, Sarah says she realises she had been feeling lonely since the birth of her first baby. Things came to a head two years ago when she moved to a new area and didn’t know anybody.
Research by the British Red Cross and Co-op has shown that many young parents find themselves in the same position as Sarah. Despite its joys, becoming a parent is one of the big life transitions that can lead to loneliness.
“How do you make new friends when you don’t know anyone?”
“It was very scary to move somewhere where I didn’t know anybody, I’ve never been alone like that before,” Sarah said.
“At first it was very difficult. I didn’t have anyone to talk to or anyone who could come to visit me. I was just spending most of my time at home, I didn’t have anyone to see or anywhere to go.
“It sounds weird but I didn’t know how to socialise, how do you make friends when you don’t know anyone in this city? I didn’t even have any way of meeting people.”
Luckily, joining a support group for young mums run by family support charity Home-Start helped Sarah make new connections.
The British Red Cross and Co-op partnership supports Home-Start to help people experiencing loneliness. Mums can meet new people and get to know each other through its support groups around the country.
“I’ve always struggled to meet new people because I’m quite quiet,” Sarah said.
“But joining Home-Start has been a good way for me to meet new people and make some new friends.
“When I’m here I get to chat to other adults, which is important for anybody, especially when you have kids because it can be hard.”
“Knowing you have people you can call if you’re having a bad day… is a good feeling.”
“It was when I was offered the help that I realised how I felt before. I’d felt lonely since the birth of my first child.
“I don’t know how to explain it. It wasn’t until I got out of my routine of just spending time with my kids that I realised what was going on.
“I now know I was depressed. But meeting new people through the Home-Start group has opened doors to a lot of new opportunities for me.
“I feel like I have more freedom now, I’ve been offered that through Home-Start. I’ve learned the value of having those options and how that can help me overcome feelings of loneliness.
“Making friends and having people who I now socialise with outside of the groups is great.
“Knowing you have people you can call if you’re having a bad day or you just want to gossip about something on the telly is a good feeling.
“Some of the mums I’ve met now come round to my home or go out with me for coffee. It just makes you feel normal, I feel much better for it and able to cope with what life can throw at me.”
- Feeling lonely? The Red Cross can help
- Read our research on loneliness
- Help for people feeling lonely after bereavement
- Disabled people are a diverse group, but loneliness is common
Photo credit: Percy Dean/British Red Cross