How one man is helping others to combat loneliness
Loneliness is something we all suffer with at some point in our lives. It’s a strange state of mind, as you don’t necessarily have to be on your own to feel it. As Mind the UK’s mental health charity says:-
“Feelings of loneliness are personal, so everyone’s experience of loneliness will be different. You may choose to be alone and live happily without much contact with other people, while others may find this a lonely experience. Or you may have lots of social contact, or be in a relationship or part of a family, and still feel lonely.”
However you experience loneliness, it’s not a good place to be, especially over the Christmas period, but one man is doing his utmost to help others.
Keith Grinsted & Goodbye Lonely
In this month’s blog, I interview Keith Grinsted – who started the not-for-profit organisation ‘Goodbye Lonely’ Facebook Group, App and Website, after struggling with loneliness himself during the Covid lockdowns.
Keith is 68 and a freelance business writer. He’s been married three times (and divorced), made redundant 7 times and come close to suicide twice. So he knows a thing or two about surviving the ups and downs of life.
He set up Goodbye Lonely to support people who are dealing with loneliness, isolation and associated mental health issues by providing support and a non-judgemental shoulder to cry on. It has been mentioned by the BBC and in many National newspapers and magazines.
Aside from providing support and inspiration within the Facebook group, Keith gives up much of his time every week on phone or zoom calls with individuals. He also has an extensive ‘Goodbye Lonely’ Christmas programme lined up, with informative Zoom talks, informal chats and games and even Father Christmas popping in for a cuppa!
I started by asking Keith…
How did you come to form Goodbye Lonely?
I struggled through the various lockdowns in 2020/21. I was having panic attacks going shopping in Sainsbury’s early in the first lockdown.
Then I was picked up by BBC Breakfast to talk about loneliness as I was living in my first floor one bedroom flat. Ultimately this led to a zoom call with Captain Sir Tom Moore on BBC Breakfast!!
At the same time I was running ‘Well-being Wednesday’ on the Nespresso Facebook group. People struggling with loneliness started getting in contact with me.
Now I spend 6-8 hours a week on calls with individuals. The conversations take place via Zoom, telephone calls, Messenger, WhatsApp, whatever works best for them. And at whatever time!
And how is it helping others?
Over the past 18 months I have helped a good number of people, who were close to suicide or nervous breakdown, or nervous exhaustion. In general terms, I simply acted as a sounding board helping them find their way back to living their normal life.
I’m not going to say I stopped anybody from taking their life, but I do believe I help them find a path back to their life’s journey. The light at the end of the tunnel!
What people have said….
“I dread to think where I would be right now if I had not connected with you.”
“I hit the wall a while ago and he was there, no judging, no words if ‘I know more than you’ advice, and certainly no ‘you should have done this.’”
“I’ve noticed that every time we have a chat, I make a step forward in healing my mind from all the trauma.”
What tips do you have for combating the feeling of loneliness?
Set yourself a highlight or theme for each day. Create a timetable for the day or week so you can get stuff done. But remember to reward yourself.
Obviously I’ll say reach out to me or ‘Goodbye Lonely’ so we can listen and support.
We even set up ‘accountability groups’ – one member had a drink problem so I enlisted the help of someone who’d lost their husband to drink. We set up a ‘Dry September’ WhatsApp group so we could support him. It’s been a success too!
How can we help others combat loneliness?
You probably wouldn’t recognise most people that are dealing with loneliness. I was loneliest in a family home!
Check your messages. See who you wished merry Christmas or happy New Year to and see how many you’ve not heard from since. There’ll be quite a few.
Drop a couple of people per day a message saying “Hi just checking in to see how you are and say hello”
You may just make someone’s day!
What’s next for Goodbye Lonely?
This Christmas I have launched #GoodbyeLonelyChristmas – a series of over 30 zoom calls running from 1st December through to 1st January.
I have enlisted a number of co-hosts to run support sessions, charades, quizzes, planning to avoid a lonely Christmas, and even a call with the man himself Father Christmas!!! You can read the full schedule here.
Beyond that, I want to grow membership so we can help as many people as possible. No matter where they are. I’d like to run drop in sessions and am in discussions with major Costa and Starbucks franchisees for potential venues.
I need to find funding for this because I’ve bootstrapped it personally thus far. I’m hoping somewhere along the line to get sponsorship or funding so I can work on it full time. (If you’d like to get in touch with Keith about this you can contact him at email@example.com )
Want to learn more?
All the info is at www.goodbyelonely.co.uk including details about the new ‘Goodbye Lonely’ app – a dedicated app with its own messaging.
You can join the Facebook group here.
There’s no criteria for joining. People can join if they feel lonely or, equally, if they are able to support people who are feeling lonely in some way.
It is accessible to anyone anywhere in the world – currently a large percentage of members are in the UK, but we have members in Europe, USA, Australia, and the Far East.
So the main message from Keith is simply that you don’t have to struggle with loneliness by yourself. There is a supportive community out there ready, willing and able to say ‘Goodbye Lonely’ and to provide some companionship, love and support.
…check out our blog on self care: – 3 Simple Ways to Find Your Joy
Or read our other Interviews: –
Award Winning Storyteller Hannah tells us How To Tell a Great Children’s Story
Our illustrator Jodie talks about how she creates the gorgeous illustrations for our personalised books in Meet our Inspirational Illustrator!
And for further information about Tickled Moon and our joyful personalised books and gifts, visit our website here.