More struggling with loneliness during lockdown

MANY in Fermanagh are struggling to cope with the loneliness of the lockdown.
While rural isolation has been a perennial problem in the county, since the Covid-19 crisis began even those living in towns or who have never felt isolated before are now feeling cut off. The levels of local loneliness have been clear with the numbers calling the new Connect Fermanagh befriending phone service, which is thankfully helping keep the community connected.
Lauri McCusker, director of Fermanagh Trust which set up the service, said scores of people from all ages and backgrounds across the county had already connected with it. From older people with no family, or whose family has moved away and can’t get home, to young mothers feeling isolated at home, and all people of all ages and backgrounds in between, the service has been providing a lifeline for many.
“[The calls] are from those who have nobody, who have no family or are maybe not in sync with their family, or their family have emigrated to the other side of the world and are living separate lives,” he said. “Or they’re from the person who is living in an estate, or in a wee residential setting, with many people around them but they just don’t necessarily mix that well.”
Mr McCusker said the service had had great support with many, many volunteers coming forward. With the befriending calls taking up to an hour at a time, he said they try to match the volunteers to callers with similar interests.
 Some of those calling simply want to chat, to feel connected to someone, while Mr McCusker said others may not have been connected in with local services in the past but maybe should have been.
“Some people have been on the margins, and maybe this is an opportunity to connect them in,” he said, adding his team at Fermanagh House were happy to be putting their skills and experience to good use.
“That’s what we’re supposed to be about, we’re about helping people,” he said. “So we’ve had to change course after the closure of Fermanagh House, to do something positive.”
You can call Connect Fermanagh on 02866320230 from 9.30am-2pm.

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