A charity is encouraging residents to think about those feeling lonely this Christmas.
The British Red Cross is calling on people to send messages of support to someone in their community.
The charity’s shop in Regent Street, Blyth, is offering a free Christmas card with every pack bought until December 10, asking shoppers to show their kindness by writing a message to someone receiving support from the British Red Cross.
The cards will be sent to a local Connecting Communities service, provided in partnership with Co-Op, which helps support adults in the community who are experiencing, or at risk of, loneliness.
Louise Hedley, operations manager at the British Red Cross said: “Loneliness and social isolation doesn’t discriminate. Life circumstances can change in the blink of an eye, meaning it can happen to anyone, no matter your age or background.
“We all need someone to turn to in a crisis, but the findings of our research suggest that there are many people in our communities feeling they lack meaningful, human connections.
“Every one of us would want someone to reach out to us if we found ourselves alone. People who need our help may be closer than we think.”
She added: “By sending a message of support to someone in your community who may be alone this festive season, you can help let them know you’re thinking of them.”
Young mum Hazel Newell became lonely after moving to Blyth with her husband five years ago.
The 26-year-old was bullied in her younger years and felt she lacked the interpersonal skills to meet and connect with new people. The birth of Hazel’s daughter, Alice, prompted her go out and meet others.
“It was actually having my daughter which made me a more sociable person,” she said. “I didn’t want her to go through what I did. I decided she wasn’t going to struggle socially like me so I went out and got to know people through mum, baby and toddler groups.”
With her new-found confidence, Hazel spotted a Facebook advert about the volunteer role with the Red Cross Community Connector service in Blyth, and signed up to help others.
“This really appealed to me because I know what it is like,” she said.
“As a person in their 20s I’m not the stereotypical person you’d think of as lonely, but it can happen to anyone and I wanted to help people so they weren’t sitting at home like I was.
“For me loneliness isn’t just about physical isolation, you can have all the people around you and still feel lonely, it is about not being able to connect with people.
“It is about not knowing how to take that step going from an acquaintance, colleague or someone you see, to a friend – someone you can really talk to and share your experience.”
For more information visit www.redcross.org.uk/connect