Social interaction is vital for human health

It has been long known that human contact and interaction with other people is a basic human need and we at Time to Shine, with all our delivery partners, have worked hard since 201 to help people reduce social isolation and loneliness and make connections with other people through a diverse range of social activity.

Over 16,000 people have engaged with Time to Shine and formed friendships and social connections all across the city.

Now, in these challenging times where we are fighting to overcome the effect of coronavirus, we know that to keep everyone safe, we need to distance ourselves from others. This goes against our natural instincts and deprives all of us of a basic human need. This applies to all age groups and creates a need for all generations to help each other.

Abraham Maslow, a psychologist, developed his ‘hierarchy of needs’ in 1943, showing that some needs take precedence over others. Of course we need food and shelter, warmth and sleep before we think about human contact, and we know that for many, access to those things can be challenging at the best of times.

Our need to feel safe has also been challenged recently; contact with other people has even made us feel afraid and anxious, so keeping our distance is necessary for giving us a sense of security.

Now that we are close to full lockdown, only allowed out for food, medicine and brief exercise, we are hopefully feeling safer and the fabulous community efforts that we are seeing every day, are trying to make sure that our most vulnerable people have food and drink and the basics that they need to stay home.

We at Time to Shine want to raise awareness that the third most basic need - the need to feel that we belong and are accepted and loved - is at risk during this enforced isolation. An absence of social belonging can lead to loneliness and social anxiety. A feeling of belonging helps us to see the value in life and helps us to cope with human emotions.

As people fight to deal with the challenge of empty supermarket shelves, the fear of coronavirus contaminating us and our loved ones and keeping the kids entertained as they are kept away from school, remember to maintain social interaction with each other and with people who you know live alone. Loneliness affects people of all ages - young and old - from all walks of life.

Please - reach out and touch someone - if only with your heart!

Linda Glew
Time to Shine Programme Manager (Legacy)

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