Increased periods of isolation from lockdowns have left Canadians across the country feeling more alone. While this summer has been a breath of fresh air to have outdoor gatherings and more relaxed protocols, the memory of more difficult conditions is not so far behind us. For neighbours right in your own community, that sense of isolation we’ve all felt is with them everyday, every year, pandemic or not. But there are ways you can help to change that!
This pandemic, Udai has taken up the mantle of Friendly Visitor with Community Support Connections. In his community, it’s a service that helps anyone and everyone fill a crucial need for others – the need for companionship.
“I love it,” Udai expounds. “I get to meet different people, I get to learn from their experiences. We get to have good, meaningful friendships.”
Although he has only been participating as part of the agency’s Friendly Visiting service for a month, already he has seen the huge benefit it has had for himself and the older adults he meets with. It’s flexible, too – whether you are working or retired, you can schedule times to safely meet, talk on the phone, or connect virtually, like with any friend.
“No matter what we do, we can always share a laugh. I feel that now more than ever, with the pandemic going on, companionship, and providing your own time, means a lot.”
Udai points out that the self-isolation we have all experienced takes a toll on our mental health. For many older adults, those feelings of loneliness and isolation have been a part of their lived experience long before COVID.
“My current client is an older gentleman, and I can see that he loves to talk to younger people. … Not everyone has family that they can talk to; not everyone has all their family living in the same town. I know it’s well appreciated.”
In recent months, Community Support Connections’ waitlist for Friendly Visitors has grown. The story in Waterloo Region is the same as it is across the nation. Udai encourages others to do as he has done, see if your community has a visiting service, and whether or not, reach out to help.
“Anybody that is looking to get involved – get involved. You won’t even realise you are volunteering. You’ll feel like you are hanging out with your best friend because you
develop such a meaningful relationship.”
And to Udai, that is what it is all about.
“Look after one another. Because at the end of the day, things come and go, but all we have is people. And that connection is what matters.”