Winter campaign to tackle rising loneliness and anxiety

Ongoing Coronavirus lockdown measures are taking their toll on mental health, according to NFU Mutual, with new research suggesting a rise in stress, anxiety and loneliness.

© Chris O’Donovan Photography

New research from leading rural insurer NFU Mutual has revealed that that more people are feeling stressed (+7%), anxious (+3%) and lonely (+2%) than in June.

Recognising the challenges communities are facing with ongoing Covid-19 lockdown measures, NFU Mutual has launched its winter campaign, working with Samaritans to share the charity’s tools and resources and help anyone who is struggling.

Samaritans is one of the charities to have benefitted from donations of over £1m made to UK charities from the NFU Mutual Charitable Trust this year. The trust is this year supporting Samaritans’ response to the pandemic and its work in rural communities.

Earlier in 2020, the trust supported the charity’s Real People, Real Stories campaign to reach those most at risk, particularly men aged 20-59 in agricultural industries, and beyond. 

Samaritans is there for anyone struggling to cope. The charity responds to a call for help every seven seconds. They are open day and night, 365 days a year, and provide support through a listening service including by phone, email, letter, face-to-face (currently suspended due to coronavirus) and through their Welsh language service.

In the six months of restrictions since March 2020, Samaritans’ volunteers have provided emotional support more than 1.2 million times by phone, email or letter. Research with over 1,400 of the charity’s volunteers suggests that around one in five calls for help to Samaritans are about coronavirus, with volunteers suggesting it is mentioned in almost all calls. Anxiety in particular has increased among callers month on month, even as lockdown is being eased.

Customer comments from NFU Mutual’s research further highlight the growing need for support services: 

“I feel very isolated. I live a half mile from my nearest neighbour, so rarely see anyone let alone talk.” Philip, North West. 

“Life is very different, and I feel so alone not able to do things I used to.” Sandra, West Midlands. 

“An unending nightmare. Everything we worked for through life towards retirement- coffee with friends, meals out, holidays abroad – all compromised with no obvious end.” Peter, South West. 

Matthew Lock, head of corporate partnerships at Samaritans, said: “We are very grateful to The NFU Mutual Charitable Trust for supporting our response to the pandemic as well as our work in rural communities, and beyond. We welcome their winter campaign to promote the support available for anyone struggling to cope. As we continue to face the challenges of the pandemic, it’s essential that we all look after ourselves and one another, by continuing to check in on anyone who may be struggling and encourage them to reach out for support, whether it’s from a friend, family member or a helpline like Samaritans.” 

Jo Lumani, head of reputation at NFU Mutual, added: “We‘re proud to be championing Samaritans as they work to support those facing isolation. The emotional and practical support offered around the clock is vital for all our communities at this challenging time.

“NFU Mutual has been supporting our members and communities for over 100 years, and through the Charitable Trust we work closely with a range of charities to support causes across all corners of the UK who are changing lives and giving hope for a better future.”

Anyone can contact Samaritans FREE any time from any phone on 116 123, even a mobile without credit. This number won’t show up on your phone bill. Or you can email jo@samaritans.org or visit http://www.samaritans.org.

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