Loneliness Awareness week couldn’t be more topical for CENS. People who experience homelessness are at a higher risk of mental and physical health problems, and nearly all of our service users report feelings of social isolation when they refer in.
One of the main contributing factors of homelessness is the breakdown of relationships. Not only are they without secure accommodation, often they are facing the crisis without support from family. No wonder they feel lonely.
CENS residents have the option of being as involved with group activities as they would like to. We try to create a community feel so they form social connections and even long-lasting friendships
This great idea was put forward by a resident. Everyone writes down a film suggestion and the movie of the week is chosen at random. The communal living room is used as the cinema and everyone gets to watch. There is usually a friendly fight for the comfy sofa!
Dinner is served from the kitchen and residents have the option of eating together in the communal dining room, in the garden (if it’s warm enough) or in their rooms. We find that dinner time is the height of activity and there’s a buzz to the shelter. Everyone is tired and hungry from being out all day so a chat and some nutritious food goes down well.
Cooking for everyone
Alleviating loneliness doesn’t have to be through talking. One of the ways we encourage people to make connections is if they want to help with the cooking. That way residents can chat with staff in a less formal setting than the office, which can feel intimidating to some people. By having something to do whilst chatting helps the residents’ relax. There’s also a sense of accomplishment and pride once they’ve served up for everyone.
CENS night staff do a fantastic job with checking-in with each resident. Every week they have allocated times to sit and chat in the counselling room. Not only do we ask how far they are progressing with finding accommodation, but it also gives them a chance to open up and talk about their feelings.