Helping to reduce parent carer loneliness

3 mins read

Tuesday 21 June 2022

Tags: listening ear, isolation, workshops, loneliness, online support

Last week was Loneliness Awareness Week. Parents often tell us that they feel lonely or isolated when they first realise their child may have an additional need.

That’s why a lot of Contact’s services centre around bringing families together online and in person to build support networks and make friends.

Online friendships

Our private Facebook Group is a supportive online space, where parents share their knowledge and help find solutions to each other’s problems in a warm and encouraging way. There are currently 13,400 members and rising.

We have a programme of workshops, which are not only informative but also a place where families get together and make connections. We also run workshops in particular regions or nations.

Getting together in person

And we are putting on family events in areas we have funding, currently in Wales and the West Midlands. If you are in touch with our London offices, they will be telling you soon about the summer events they have planned, including trips to the seaside and a disability sports day.

Amanda Batten, Chief Executive of Contact, said: “One of the most common things we hear parents say is that they feel isolated. This feeling of being alone can start right from diagnosis, when families are often left to come to terms with it on their own. And then there’s less chance of social interaction at baby groups, or at the school gates.

“We know that families are stronger when they have a network of support from other families in a similar situation – whether that’s through local support groups or parent carer forums. That’s why putting families in touch with others for support is at the heart of what Contact does.”

Impact on health

Contact’s Forgotten Families research report (2017) found that isolation caused almost three quarters (72%) of families with disabled children to experience poor mental health such as anxiety, depression or breakdown.

Amanda Batten added: “It’s important to recognise that loneliness has a real impact on health and wellbeing. Some of the isolation that families feel is down to a lack of practical help, so we campaign for better support. All families want is a little amount of support to enable them to continue to care for their disabled child and feel less isolated: a chance to go shopping, a moment to catch up on sleep or have a bath, or time to spend with their other children. This can make such a big difference to how we feel.”

Talk to someone

If you are feeling lonely or isolated, you could join one of our workshops or our private Facebook group for families. We also have appointments to speak to our of Parent Advisers who provide emotional support to parents. Book a Listening Ear appointment today.