For many, Christmas is a joyful time spent with family and friends, but for others, the festive season brings a sense of isolation, anxiety or financial hardship.
Loneliness and social isolation are two of the biggest downsides of modern life. For a growing number of people, particularly those who are older, loneliness can have a significant impact on health and wellbeing. Sadly, when it feels like everyone else is having a wonderful time, lack of human contact at Christmas can be particularly painful
And it is not just older people who can feel like this. Recent ONS figures on children, young people and loneliness show that over 11% of children and almost 10% of young people say they are often lonely. The pressure of social media can cause real grief to those who feel excluded.
But there are ways in which we can help. By recognising the importance of friendship towards the most vulnerable, as a society we can play an important role in promoting inclusivity. Put simply, it is about being kind and making our contacts with others count.
The distress of financial worries can also be magnified over the festive period. The anxiety of struggling to meet Christmas costs can tempt people towards punishing credit deals with unscrupulous lenders who prey on the financially vulnerable.
Warrington has an amazing network of voluntary organisations who do wonderful work to ensure that support is there for those who need it. And, we are witnessing a growing trend of more creative ways that practical and emotional help is offered. Acts of generosity and compassion from local volunteers and charities are providing lifelines for people in need.
Wellbeing isn’t something that is a given, or to be taken for granted. Sometimes, we all need advice or encouragement. But we can all play our own part in looking after our loved ones, and by sparing a considerate thought or doing a kind deed for those having a tough time.
Locally we have a whole menu of different groups that can help, and we have the Warrington Wellbeing Team, based at The Gateway on Sankey Street, who can help people find what they need to get back on track.
Thank you to all of our town’s fantastic volunteers, charities and faith groups for your hard work and kindness all year around. And thank you to our emergency services, carers and armed forces personnel for all that you do to keep us safe and well.
And finally, I would like to wish everyone a Merry Christmas and a peaceful and prosperous New Year.