Loneliness is still one of society’s taboos. It is something everyone goes through and yet so many people feel isolated and unsupported, unaware of how to cope.
Marmalade Trust set up Loneliness Awareness Week in 2017 in an effort to get people talking about it. They want to “create a society where people freely acknowledge that loneliness can exist,” while trying to encourage increased social contact for those in need.
We at the Ellen MacArthur Cancer Trust know 83% of young people recovering from cancer experience loneliness. Giving young people the opportunity to meet people like them is at the heart of all our trips.
We hope they enjoy sailing, our residentials, and all the events we run – but to rebuild #ConfidenceAfterCancer it takes more than fun activities. Meeting others who have had similar lives, when often they feel like the odd one out, is so important.
A diagnosis is an isolating event, especially in young people, removing them from their regular routines and changing their whole lives. Missing school, not having day-to-day social contact, and losing confidence in their physical abilities all contribute to loneliness during recovery.
The yachts on our trips provide safe environments for conversations about thoughts and feelings to take place, often for the first time between those in recovery. We want young people to feel reassured that opening up and feeling vulnerable – which in itself is difficult – is all part of overcoming loneliness.
The British Government’s research found 75% of those aged 18-24 have said they felt lonely – the most of any age demographic. The Minister for Loneliness, Mims Davies, said: “Loneliness is one of the biggest health challenges our country faces. It can affect anyone at any time and its impact is in line with smoking or obesity. But we can only begin to help one another if we feel able to understand, recognise and talk about it.”
Below are some words from young people who have been on a Trust trip. We believe sharing our experiences is one of the best ways to tackle loneliness. We encourage everyone to join in – #LetsTalkLoneliness.
Meg Holgate, 25
The Trust trips have given me so much confidence and really helped me get back my social life after treatment. After treatment I was really anxious and had totally lost my confidence around people and in my own body. The trust trips have helped me regain my confidence and independence. The focus is not on cancer, but on sailing and a social environment.
Leila Hamrang, 31
My confidence has improved a lot. I have met new friends and have been inspired by the people I have met on the trips. The Trust is like a family when you go on the trips, you build up a very close bond with everyone which is very special.
Lewis Paget, 20
The Trust trips mean the world to me as it’s a safe environment where I can really be myself and I can be honest about my emotions. The trips themselves are amazing and it’s wonderful to get to know new people who have had similar experiences to you. It’s made me realise that it’s good to open up about your feelings, it has massively helped my healing process.
Peter Swanson, 21
Trust trips are a good way to meet people who have been in similar situations and it makes me feel happier being able to talk about it. It has also made me more confident as I think it’s helped me realise how I can move forward from what happened.
Thanks to an Extra Award from players of People’s Postcode Lottery, we are able to help more young people feel less isolated and lonely after cancer. The award is part of People’s Postcode Lottery’s commitment to support the Government’s £20m investment in tackling loneliness. Without the support of players of People’s Postcode Lottery since 2010, we simply would not have been able to meet as many young people on their paths through recovery.