If the pandemic has taught us one thing, it’s that anyone can feel isolated or lonely. It is not the reserve of older people or those who have moved away from their home town. In fact, the Office for National Statistics estimates that 23% of the population of Great Britain has reported feeling lonely. Even starker was a recent survey by YouGov, which found that almost a third (31%) of Britons aged between 18 and 24 years feel lonely often or all the time.
These shocking statistics show that in a world when everyone and almost everything is at a click of a button, the physical relationships between us are declining, with the COVID-19 response shining a light on this decline.
For many, life halted as the global pandemic took hold. Routines erased, activities cancelled, and little or no face to face interaction. So many of us experienced loneliness or isolation during lockdowns and government restrictions. Whatever your age, key milestones can certainly trigger or exacerbate loneliness, such as going to university, becoming a parent, relocating for work, redundancy, relationship breakdown, retirement, or losing a loved one.
At Norwich Theatre, we recognise human relationships truly matter, and no one should feel lonely. This year Norwich Theatre’s Christmas Appeal responds to this ever-growing and urgent need to bring people together through creative experiences to combat loneliness. The money raised will be used to provide opportunities for those most in need to meet new people and try something new in a warm, friendly, welcoming environment.
Creativity is an outlet for so many to help combat issues they may face, so this year’s appeal will help us open up our doors to provide opportunities for those most in need to be creative and meet new people.
“I found the sessions really impacted my wellbeing because I looked forward to them each week, I knew that I would be seen and heard by the group and that there would be a social aspect because of that (even on Zoom). So, I found that taking the time each week to participate has been very beneficial to my emotional wellbeing as well as my own mental growth.” – Participant
The appeal will fund a continuation of our work with the local communities in Norfolk who are vulnerable to loneliness and isolation. Our recent Creative Community Recovery Programme won a national award for Age Friendly Outreach. The programme supported older adults who found themselves particularly isolated because of COVID-19. It covered a huge range of opportunities to interact or participate as an audience member, including creative workshops such as drama, dance, and creative writing; needlework and other arts and crafts; and social opportunities including a community choir.
The programme had great participant take up, and those attending the various experiences found that it improved their general well-being and provided a creative outlet for participants. Attendees looked forward to each week and commented that it was a great way to meet new people going through similar issues to themselves.
The Christmas Appeal runs until the end of our pantomime Dick Whittington and his Cat on 9 January.