Autumn equinox has passed, the pavements are scattered with fiery leaves, and all of a sudden those sweltering days on the beach seem a distant memory.
If you’re anything like me, the shorter cooler days make you want to stay at home, snuggled up on the sofa with a big cup of tea. Rest is important year-round, but it’s all too easy to accidentally find ourselves more secluded than we intended.
Though news headlines rightly focus on isolation of the elderly, many demographics are affected by loneliness: young adults, new parents, disabled people, university students… I could go on.
Community is a hugely important part of South West Mutual’s mission. I decided to investigate ways to stay social in the South West this winter, starting out by asking around for ideas.
Responses to our tweet included the following:
● Joining a Marie Curie fundraising group
● Checking out the REconomy Centre
Not only were these fantastic suggestions, but they got me thinking about lots more ideas...
Fundraise for a local cause
It can be challenging just staying warm in autumn and winter; 1 in 7 households in Cornwall live in fuel poverty. Help combat this by donating money to one of the Community Foundations across the South West (Cornwall, Devon, Somerset, Dorset).
Originally set up for those who wanted to pass on their governmental Winter Fuel Payment, the Foundations also welcome donations fundraised through work or community groups. You could organise a bake sale with colleagues, plan a springtime street party with neighbours, or sign up for a team event with housemates. Fundraising gives you the feel-good fuzzies for all sorts of reasons!
Get everyone together
Hands up who’s guilty of saying to people “we must meet up soon!” only to never organise anything? Yeh, me too - so I’m thinking of creating a supper club.
If I’m going to stay in and batch cook anything which goes nicely with impressively huge chunks of bread, I might as well do it with other people. I’m planning on sending a round text to all those friends I haven’t seen in too long with a mid-week, very laid back dinner invite. If it’s successful, it might become a regular thing, or a potluck event.
If dinner isn’t your thing, try a Saturday morning brunch meetup, after work drinks, or a group wander around a nearby wild place.
Try a new group
Think back to what you enjoyed at school (playing football, card games, writing) or activities you like doing alone (crafting, listening to music, exploring new places) and search for groups doing these things together.
The website MeetUp is an absolute goldmine for finding groups. In the South West, there are active groups for everything from walking and readingto more niche interests like digital software and gaming.
Just be around people
Loneliness doesn’t have to be about missing specific friends or finding new company. Being around other people can be enough - especially if direct social interaction can feel draining.
Frequent a local cafe for their Sunday morning pancakes special, read your book in a comfy library chair instead of at home, or head to a regular event such as poetry readings or acoustic gig nights.
As you become more integrated in communities, you might find yourself absorbed into a whole new friendship group - as a freelancer, this has certainly been my experience at a local coworking space.
I hope this blog has given you a few ideas of your own - even if that just means texting a friend to arrange coffee!
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