Loneliness sufferers urge others to get 'life-saving' help

By Linzi Kinghorn
BBC South

  • Published
Image caption,
Alli Osborne tells the BBC that the Steps 2 Wellbeing service saved her life

A woman who battled feelings of severe loneliness has described how she believes a free NHS mental wellbeing service helped save her life.

Alli Osborne, from Poole in Dorset, contacted Steps 2 Wellbeing in an attempt to overcome anxiety and an increased sense of isolation.

The service, which covers Dorset and Southampton, said it has seen higher demand since Covid lockdowns.

Several treatment options are available and are free for all adults.

Mrs Osborne, who uses a wheelchair after suffering a series of strokes, told the BBC: "The fear of being lonely was my problem. I couldn't go out.

"It stopped me from seeing people in the other flats and people who live nearby because I was worried I would embarrass myself in front of them - and I couldn't take that."

The mother-of-two said the feeling of loneliness was powerful despite being surrounded by her husband and family - and it was only when she was put in touch with the service that things improved.

"They're life-savers," she said. "They literally saved my life."

Image caption,
Chris Jones said he has felt alone even when in a room with "thousands of people"

Chris Jones, a musician from Weymouth, also sought help from the service.

He said: "When you're with people you don't want to be there - you just want to be on your own.

"When you're on your own that little negative voice in your head gets so loud it's almost unbearable.

"Being a performer I've sat in rooms with thousands of people and felt completely alone, felt like I haven't got a single person in that room."

Mr Jones has used his experience to become a peer support practitioner for Steps 2 Wellbeing in order to help others.

"It doesn't really matter who you are, what walk of life you're from, what your childhood was like - mental health doesn't discriminate," he said.

"The big thing is, if someone is struggling - do talk about it. You're not on your own."

Image caption,
Psychological wellbeing practitioner Lauren Scott said there has been an increase in referrals since Covid

Lauren Scott, a senior psychological wellbeing practitioner based in Dorset, said: "Loneliness is something that can be experienced by anyone.

"There may be an assumption that it's generally an older adult that might experience loneliness - but it can be something we can experience at any point in our life."

She added: "I think we've seen an increase from all sorts of backgrounds and age groups, especially since Covid

"We've got adults who are working from home remotely - that's had a big impact on people's ability to connect even with their colleagues."

People can be referred to Steps 2 Wellbeing by their GP or contact the service directly.

Follow BBC South on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram. Send your story ideas to [email protected].the 26-strong Redwing fleet

Related Internet Links

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites.