Staying connected

Importance of feeling connected

Most people like to make friends and socialise with other people but it's not always easy; especially if you're unable to get out much.

Making sure you are not isolated is important to maintain your mental health. The loneliness and isolation that results from lack of social contact can harm your health, leading to:

  • depression
  • anxiety
  • low self-esteem
  • sleep problems
  • increased stress

and increase chances of developing dementia and early death.

Older and younger people

Older people can be at high risk of feeling lonely and isolated because of:

  • reduced mobility,
  • bereavement, or
  • not having family close by.

Young people can also report feelings of loneliness and isolation, for instance, when they move away from family to go to college or if they are finding it difficult to make new friends.

The coronavirus pandemic has significantly increased the number of people experiencing isolation due to household lockdowns and social distancing.

Many organisations have risen to the challenge by mobilising volunteers to provide much-needed social contacts as well as other essentials.

You can find further information on how to access local support and services on the Tower Hamlets Council's Coronavirus page.

Pets are important

A study carried out by the Mental Health Foundation and Cats Protection in 2011 found that 87 percent of those who owned a cat felt it had a positive impact on their wellbeing, while 76 percent said they could cope with everyday life better than before, because of the company their cat provided.

Half of cat owners felt their cat’s presence and companionship was the most helpful factor in their wellbeing, while a third described having a cat as a calming and helpful activity.

Caring for a pet can also make you feel valuable and needed, as you are responsible for the care of another life. Dogs especially are effective for this, as they require daily walks and a lot of attention.  Walking a dog often leads to conversations with other dog owners, and can help you to stay socially connected with the world.  

Getting connected

The important thing to recognise is that it is perfectly okay to speak about being lonely and seek advice or opportunities to combat it. There are many opportunities across Tower Hamlets to get some support and to find ways to build new relationships, friendships. 

Look for ways to meet people, and make new friends to help you to feel connected and valued:

Finding advice

Speak to social prescribers at your GP practice, or community navigators at your local Idea Store, who can help you find new interests, classes and other advice to keep you motivated, independent and leading a fulfilling life. Alternatively, search our Community Directory for local organisations offering lunch clubs, advice and activities.

Befriending services

There are a number of befriending services available in Tower Hamlets, so you don’t have to feel isolated or lonely. Search our Community Directory.

Some of these offer telephone befriending where trained service users, carers and volunteers offer a friendly voice at the end of the phone to help increase wellbeing and reduce feelings of isolation and loneliness.

You can choose:

  • how often you would like to be called
  • whether you have a preferred gender of the caller
  • what your interests are

to help match them with the best-suited befriender.

The East London Foundation Trust (ELFT) provides such a service. You can apply online. by visiting the website.

Finding support

LinkAge Plus

LinkAge Plus (over 50s) is a network of community groups which offer outreach and activities for people over 50.
Email linkageplus@toynbeehall.org.uk, telephone 020 7392 2933.

Neighbours in Poplar

Neighbours in Poplar provides practical support and care for vulnerable people who are living at home, regardless of their faith, age, race, gender, culture, or disability. They also provide disadvantaged children with breaks from their normal environment during the summer holidays.
Email nip65@msn.com, telephone 020 7987 0257.

Tower Hamlets Friends and Neighbours

Tower Hamlets Friends and Neighbours provides a befriending service – regular home visits and phone contact to provide practical and emotional support to people experiencing social isolation and loneliness. 
Email admin@thfn.org.uk, telephone 020 8983 7979.

East London Cares

East London Cares in Bethnal Green and Mile End area, offer befriending and support that can help people to feel connected and valued.
Email sasha.khan@eastlondoncares.org.uk, telephone 020 7118 4949.