Why we need each other

15 Apr 2024
The need to belong is deeply ingrained in human nature. From the earliest civilizations coming together to share shelter and food, to today’s expansive and diverse society, communities have formed to provide security, support, friendship, and warmth.

Yet today loneliness is a stigma which is still prominent in society.. While often associated with the older generation, studies suggest that loneliness is actually most prevalent among 16-24 year olds. They are also the least likely to take action to help themselves, with more than 80% of young people confessing they would be embarrassed to admit being lonely. 

A community can mean different things to different people. From a close-knit local neighbourhood, faith group, or professional association; to a sports club, volunteer network, or peer support group, a community is a group of people who share a common value, interest, or purpose.

Very often, communities come into their own during times of crisis. Who could forget clapping for our local heroes at the front door during the Covid-19 pandemic? Or latterly, communities coming together to help people struggling with the cost-of-living crisis. Communities are a powerful force, working together through good times and bad. As disability rights pioneer, Helen Keller, so aptly said, ‘Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much.’ 

Why communities work

Health and wellbeing

Connecting with others is good for your mental and physical health. It can boost self-esteem and help stave off feelings of hopelessness and loneliness. It can also be really good fun!
Finding others with a similar view of life helps us realise that we are not alone – which is why it can feel isolating if you don’t feel you belong. The emotional strain of loneliness has also been linked to physical problems such as sleep disorders and weakened immunity. 


Acceptance and trust

Communities can be remarkably diverse – in fact, part of their appeal may even be that melting pot of different cultures, experiences, and views. 
Community input is also essential in generating interest, engagement, and trust – especially in something new. Being an active participant in shaping a community strengthens its credibility and builds spirit to help it succeed.


Knowledge and ideas 

Being part of a community is beneficial both personally and professionally. No one knows everything and other people’s thoughts and ideas may well come from a different perspective to your own.
Communities present opportunities for personal and professional development, while building those all-important ‘it’s not what you know, it’s who you know’ connections. 


Motivation and accountability 

Get inspired and motivated, push your limits and up your game!
Communities offer motivation, support, and belief – even friendly competition – to push yourself on.
They also make you accountable for your actions, or lack of them. 

Finding somewhere you belong 

Life changes can affect our need and ability to connect with others. Moving or leaving home, starting a new school or job, losing a loved one, acquiring an illness or disability, even scrolling snapshots of the outside world on social media can leave us feeling out of the loop. 

Communities are built when you engage with others, be it online or in person.

Find out about events nearby: a gym class, dog walking group, or book club. 
Ask friends and relatives what they do locally and ask to join them. 

Volunteering is also a fantastic way to get to know people locally. Councils and volunteer groups will have opportunities from befriending to litter picking patrols, all well established and free to join. 

The Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) Loneliness Campaign 2024 aims to reach people who are most at risk, to increase awareness of where to find support and how to help others talk about it. Check out their resources for more information. 

Give your time and friendship – it will soon be repaid.

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