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Shining A Light On Loneliness In The Horowhenua

Initiated by the New Zealand Coalition to End Loneliness, ‘Light up Loneliness’ is about bringing people together, to reach out and support people who are feeling lonely and isolated.

Horowhenua District Council was asked how they ‘light up loneliness’ in their wider community.

“We have a wonderful, supportive, caring community here in Horowhenua with many local organisations and groups who look after our vulnerable people. Even with this support, ‘light up loneliness’ has made me stop and think about the people in my life, who live alone or that I haven’t heard from in a while. A phone call or popping in to show that you care can make all the difference when someone is feeling lonely” said Mayor Bernie Wanden.

Council’s Community Wellbeing Committee continue to enhance and celebrate the strength, diversity and vibrancy of the Horowhenua that allows all people to feel a sense of belonging, inclusion and social connectedness.

“We are lucky to have such commitment from many volunteers who are part of existing caring caller teams, parish groups or individuals who continue to strive for the very best, to enable our district to thrive” says Councillor Victoria Kaye-Simmons.

Age Concern Horowhenua has a social connection programme; an initiative that provides elderly with regular visits from volunteers, particularly important at Christmas.

Charlene Lyttle, AVS Support Worker from Age Concern Horowhenua says “Our volunteer visitors and clients become an integral part of each other’s lives. It’s not just the clients who benefit from these visits. The older people in our community share rich and interesting stories. Anyone who loves to learn and make meaningful connections would enjoy volunteering on our Accredited Visiting Service”.

Older people in New Zealand Aotearoa are not the only ones who are feeling lonely or isolated. Statistics from The Social Report 2016 – Te pūrongo oranga tangata show 15-24 year olds were the loneliest age group.

Life to the Max Horowhenua supports young people through mentoring and providing pathways to training and education. Manager, Samantha Coromandel said they frequently hear the words ‘don’t belong or not included’ by clients.

“Often there are bigger issues than just ‘feeling lonely’, so along with our health and social work support, we offer programmes to build their self-esteem, confidence and reduce social anxiety.”

“Together, we hope it leads to better social outcomes” said Samantha.

Anyone can be a part of ‘light up loneliness’ in the Horowhenua, check on your neighbour, phone or visit the people in your life who live alone or are isolated.

You can learn more at letsendloneliness.co.nz, or get involved through social media channels and support the ‘Light up loneliness’ campaign.

If you are 18 years or older and would like to get involved with Age Concern Horowhenua’s Accredited Visiting Service call Charlene Lyttle on (06) 367 2181.

If you are feeling isolated or alone please reach out to someone you know.

Where to get help:

· Need to Talk? Free call or text 1737 any time to speak to a trained counsellor, for any reason.

· Lifeline: 0800 543 354 or text HELP to 4357

· Suicide Crisis Helpline: 0508 828 865 / 0508 TAUTOKO (24/7). This is a service for people who may be thinking about suicide, or those who are concerned about family or friends.

· Depression Helpline: 0800 111 757 (24/7) or text 4202

· Samaritans: 0800 726 666 (24/7)

· Youthline: 0800 376 633 (24/7) or free text 234 (8am-12am), or email talk@youthline.co.nz

· What's Up: online chat (3pm-10pm) or 0800 WHATSUP / 0800 9428 787 helpline (12pm-10pm weekdays, 3pm-11pm weekends)

· Kidsline: (ages 5-18): 0800 543 754 (24/7)

· Rural Support Trust Helpline: 0800 787 254

· Healthline: 0800 611 116

· Rainbow Youth: (09) 376 4155

If it is an emergency and you feel like you or someone else is at risk, call 111.

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