For most, the holiday season is a time for celebration, togetherness and family. Christmas and New Year are a chance for us to come together and relax, and look forward to the year ahead.
However, for many people, young and old, the post-Holiday blues are very real, and for them it can be a time of loneliness and sadness. So much so, that the third Monday in January is traditionally thought of as ‘the most difficult day of the year’, or “Blue Monday”.
Loneliness is one of the most important issues I have campaigned on since I was first elected in 2015 – Age UK have estimated that for almost four million people, television is their main form of company. It’s an all too often underreported issue, something we simply don’t talk enough about in the media. Loneliness does, however, often come up in my regular advice surgeries.
In Parliament I used to chair the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Ageing and Older People, which focussed considerable time and effort into tackling loneliness in older people. I also worked closely with the late Jo Cox MP and the Loneliness Commission which was set up two years ago in her memory.
Tackling loneliness is about community spirit, but recent moves by the Government in this regard have also been welcome. The appointments of a Minister for Loneliness this time last year as well as a separate Minister for Suicide Prevention are both big steps towards tackling this taboo and making it the ‘done thing’ for people to talk and be open about issues such as loneliness.
I hope everyone had an enjoyable and relaxing festive season, but I would urge you to spare a thought for your neighbours around us in Wealden who may be lonelier than you realise. It’s amazing how much impact the simple act of knocking on your elderly neighbour’s door for a chat can have.
So this January, as we get back to the grind, why not pop round, say hello and have a cup of tea with your neighbours? Something so simple could make such a difference.
Nus Ghani – Wealden MP.