Loneliness and isolation: Live Q&A

These days we hear the words “loneliness” and “isolation” more than we’re used to. National lockdowns, government restrictions and the change of season can exacerbate our social connectedness and feelings of companionship. Coronavirus has shed light on the impact of isolation and loneliness on people’s mental wellbeing. 

For our next Live Q&A on Clic, we will explore isolation and loneliness, looking at the challenges people are facing during the winter months and coronavirus pandemic, and addressing ways we can stay better connected and reduce loneliness. We will be joined by the following three panellists who will share their insights and offer practical support and advice on this topic:

  • David Phelops is the Choir Director of More Than Just A Choir, a social singing group for people affected by mental ill health. At school, David was a keen amateur musician, playing clarinet and singing. Following a personal encounter with local mental health services in 2006, he formed the Harrow Community Choir (as it was then called) with the help of the local Harrow Rethink Support Group. David has run the choir voluntarily for 11 years, growing its profile with many engagements around the local community. These include a mental health conference for the Archbishop of Canterbury, attended by Prince Harry, and a London performance of the premiere of “Hhumann X”, a piece of music written about isolation and loneliness. Since March 2020, David has led nearly 150 online choir sessions, keeping singing opportunities in the community very much alive.
  • Judith Major is Hafal Promise National Coordinator at our founding charity, Hafal. She retired from South Wales Police in January 2018 after serving 33 years there. During this time, Judith launched Keep Safe Cymru –a scheme to help people with learning disabilities, dementia or mental health with a communication need. The scheme was described as life-changing and potentially life-saving, and it has now been adopted by three out of the four Welsh Police Forces. In March 2018, Judith became a consultant at Hafal on the Criminal Justice side of the business and, following the outbreak of the pandemic, she was appointed the Covid-19 lead for Hafal and The Promise Ambassador for the charity in 2020.
  • Matthew Hyndman is Group Development Officer North West for Rethink Mental Illness. He works with support groups that provide empathy, acceptance and reassurance to members, from people who have been through similar experiences with mental illness. Rethink has a wide variety of groups from art and crafts to groups for carers and peer support. Matthew also has his own lived experience of mental health, having been diagnosed on the autism spectrum as a teenager and experiencing regular periods of depression and social anxiety. He testifies to the importance of support from mental health charities and tells us it can rebuild people’s confidence even from the lowest point.

This session will be hosted by Tom O’Connor, Programme Development Manager at Mental Health UK.

To tune into the session, you’ll first need to create an account on Clic, then simply log in on Wednesday 27 January at midday and come back to the event page for the Q&A.

If you have a question you’d like to put to our experts, you can either submit one in advance or ask it in the live chat function while the event is happening.